I wanted to share some pictures of the class. This is our group, staff and students of YWAM's new Bible school running in Kona this fall. Most of my October update is in my newsletter, which you can sign up for on this blog, but I hadn't shared pictures until now. Our group is from the Unites States, South Korea, Micronesia, Mongolia and Japan.
Staff, students, guest speaker, Steve Gregg and myself on the stairs to our classroom
What a place to study God's word!
In class listening to Steve Gregg share on Joshua and Judges
It's pretty clear from the Bible that God wants his people to be... different. From as far back as the exodus, His command to the Israelites was "You shall be holy because I am holy." (Lev. 11:44) Holiness, as describes in God's law, was certainly going to make them stand out among their neighbors, the way they ate, the way the dressed, the way they worshiped.... Essentially, this term, "holiness" translated into "different," even "weird" in every aspect of life for God's people as far as outsiders were concerned. "You shall be weird because I am weird!"
If you've talked to many 20-30 year-olds recently and asked them about their dreams, it's probable you heard the word "radical" in there somewhere. This word has been driving a generation to travel the globe, throw themselves over cliffs and off bridges (with bungee cords and squirrel suits) tattoo their entire bodies and all around, live life on terms quite different than former generations. In working with youth in training and equipping them for ministry and missions, I encounter this fiery spirit all the time, I love it, and can certainly see it in my own life as well. In our quest to be "radical" my generation has stumbled upon an old testament mandate, perhaps by accident, perhaps as part of God's plan to do something in the world on a global scale!
let's do something radical!
God has put this desire in hearts around the world, but as Christians, as leaders, as mentors, how can we focus and direct this passion towards His Kingdom purposes? In recent discussions, prayer times and pondering this question, I've come across some really neat insights from the word, and from other Christian leaders God has been speaking to about the same thing. One quote that really spoke to me by David Platt, author of a book called "Radical" (go figure) is "Faithfulness is the new radical." When I read that it hit me like a 2" x 4" This is the message my generation needs, not just preached at them, but demonstrated by leaders, older and younger in all walks of life.
One of the weakness of "radical" is that it tends to be drawn to "the next big thing" hopping from adventure to adventure, conference to concert to adrenaline rush to... you get the picture, and overlooking perhaps, the details that make it all worth it from an eternal perspective. I love an analogy shared with me recently about UCLA's Men's Basketball coach, John Wooden. The most successful NCAA coach in history, Wooden led his team to 10 National championships, including 7 in a row, and won a record 88 consecutive victories. Wow, world records and championships are something a generation bent on "radical" can get excited about!
Here's the part that struck me: One of Wooden's coaching techniques started the first day of practice with his new players. He would gather them together, before any practice, and give them each a pair of unfolded socks. "All right gentlemen, your first lesson in Basketball from me is how to properly fold your socks." I imagine there were a lot of confused looks going around in that circle until he went on to explain: "If you don't know how to fold your socks, they may get wrinkles, if your socks are wrinkled it could result in blisters, if you have blisters you won't be able to practice to your full ability. Bad practice could result in one bad play that could be avoided, that play could cost us a game and that game may be the difference between winning it all and going home empty handed!" Talk about real life application of faithfulness and attention to the small things being part of doing something radical! Here's a team with the greatest legacy in sports history, and the difference between them and all the other teams may be as small as their method of folding socks!
you never know what folding your socks can do...
"champions are made, not born."
In living as a missionary for the past 11 years, I can say I have found this principle to be true. It's easy to get caught up in movements where miracles are happening, or to be looking ahead to the next time and place a certain speaker is talking or worship band is playing, but what we do in the times between those things ultimately determines whether we live radical lives or not. Just like folding socks positioned UCLA to have an edge over the competition, our small obedience over time in the same direction, towards God's call on our lives, could be the difference between truly experiencing "radical" or just dying our hair bright colors a couple of times. Nothing against hair dye, it looks radical :-) but it probably won't make you feel radical unless it is part of a life rooted in much more.
Simple applications to living life with "faithfulness being the new radical:" Quiet times. Maybe 1 in 10 quiet times feel radical, maybe 1 in 100, but spiritually they prepare us for divine appointments, small or large God may be leading us to. Offering to pray for a person who is sharing a need, frustration, hurt or fear. Maybe this will result in instant salvation, physical healing, revival and possibly usher in the 2nd coming of Christ, most likely, the person will say thanks, and walk away with no visible change. You may never see them again, but you've been obedient to a Biblical mandate on a believer's life, and you will not know the domino effect that prayer might have in that person's life, and others around them until you stand in heaven and see history from God's perspective.
I like to think of the example of King David. We call him King David, but he wasn't born a king. The youngest of Jesse's sons, David had lots of crossroads in his life that prepared him to be a king. "Oh yeah! He fought lions and bears, giants and armies, he did lots of 'radical' things!" Yeah but I bet there were lots more days just sitting and watching sheep than there were fighting lions. He also spent a good amount of time hiding in caves, working for his dad and practicing music on his lyre. If he had said "watching sheep is boring, let someone else do it," he wouldn't have faced lions or bears. If he hadn't said "Ok dad, I'll take the groceries to my brothers," (I Sam 17) he would not have been there to fight Goliath. And if he hadn't had the patience and obedience to hide in caves and say "I will not lay a hand on the Lord's anointed," he would never have been the king God wanted him to be.
Don't wait for a giant to stand in front of you to be radical!
Want a radical life? Try looking at every minute as an opportunity to be radically obedient to God. Consider that quiet times might me radical nourishing times that prepare you to minister to others. Wonder if perhaps baby-sitting for $5 per hour might be training God has put in your life to mentor masses, lead companies or administer justice from a position of authority. Pulling weeds, washing cars, taking out the trash, what amazing opportunities for God's kingdom could tasks like these be? I can tell you that they never will be if we rush through them half-heartedly with our eyes on the next big thing, but if we approach them as opportunities to be obedient to God, you never know.
King in the making
"...With God all things are possible."~ Matthew 19:26
Here's a photo ad for the Bible school I am preparing to run in the fall in Kona, then in January in the Middle East. Are you looking for a place and time to focus on your walk with the Lord and exploring His word? This is something you should consider!
New school starting this fall!
Find more info at our website
Consider your call... are you willing to leave all to follow Him?
Aloha from the Big Island! Spring has come early for me this year, Kona, Hawaii tends to do that to people :-). This past week, students from my last school returned to their homes from a three month outreach, teaching the Bible in Costa Rica. It was an incredible privilege to spend the better part of a year walking with this group pictured below (My staff, students, visiting lecturer and myself). I won't ever forget them, and hope to cross paths with each one in our continued service to the Lord. This quarter is looking a little different from the past year, as I am preparing coursework for several U of N classes, as well as serving in the local community.
Introducing the School of Mapping for Missions: A good friend of mine is leading a new school in Kona that will impact global missions for decades to come. The school will teach missionaries the skills to use maps as a strategic tool in missions. I will be teaching one day a week in this course on the geography of the Bible, and the importance of location and physical geography in God's story! I am really excited about the new cirriculum and am looking forward to seeing this new school bear fruit for the Kingdom.
Props to Jill Thornton: Map-maker extraordinaire and SOMM school leader
Serving the Kona Community with Kona Coast Chaplaincy: I have been blessed with the opportunity of serving in a church here in Kona for the past several years. As an outreach to the community, we set up tents, chairs and a sound system at a public area near the ocean for prayer, worship and teaching. Many tourists and locals are drawn by curiosity every week, and they always have a chance to hear the gospel preached and accept Jesus. This quarter I will be preaching several times as our pastor is traveling to Taiwan to serve on the mission field there. Please pray for the continued favor of God upon these services in what we lovingly call "the most beautiful church on earth!"
Josh and I leading worship for an open air Sunday service
Innovations and Revival The school I am leading this year will highlight a new Bible study tool developed here at YWAM Kona. The Sourceview Bible is the first major change to the formatting of the Biblical text since chapters and verses were added almost 500 years ago. This breakthrough layout highlights the dramatic narrative of the Bible and greatly enhances the reader’s ability to experience the power of God’s story. If you are looking for a new and exciting way to study God's word I would strongly encourage you to get one for yourself. If you do, be sure to check out the "acknowledgements" page, you may see a name you recognize in the editorial section!
Prayer for the Nations: Mongolia The current school of Biblical Studies is preparing to be sent on outreach to the country of Mongolia! I am hoping to go with this team at least part of their time there as support staff, and hopefully teaching in some of the YWAM schools or churches with needs in the area. Some of the very first missionaries I ever knew were sent out to Mongolia, and I can remember dreaming about going there as a boy. Join me in praying for the purposes of God for this country!
Greetings from the Big Island: A lot of things have been happening here at YWAM Kona, and it is an exciting time for all of us to be involved in the global harvest of souls God is conducting! The school I have been leading the past year has graduated, and the students have moved into different areas of ministry, where they will use their Biblical training to evangelize, disciple and equip more workers in the nations they are called to. I just returned from visiting some of the staff and students of the SBS who are on an outreach in Costa Rica, serving the local body of Christ there.
School in Tijuana, Mexico: The first week in February found me for the first time in Mexico, teaching the book of Ezekiel in their class. I was really blessed to be a part of their school, and see the things God is doing in that location. Staff and students there are very involved in the community, facilitating teams who come to build houses for the poorest of the poor, and doing evangelism and prayer walks in some of Mexico's hardest neighborhoods. The SBS students pictured here are studying God's word for nine months with the intention to see it transform their mission field of Tijuana, Mexico.
students in the Tijuana SBS in their classroom
The main building of YWAM Tijuana Del Mar, equipped with kitchen, cafeteria, campus worship room and cafe.
New dorms built on the YWAM campus to facilitate more missionaries!
Prayer for the Nations: Costa Rica. I want to ask you to partner with me this month in praying for Costa Rica. Not only are my students on outreach there right now, but I believe this is a critical season for Costa Rica to rise up as a Christian nation, and begin discipling the other nations of Central America. Pray for the Bible distribution of the next months; that God's word would spark a desire for more and more Costa Ricans to know Him!
In my time with the SBS outreach, I was able to catch up with some friends serving in different areas of Costa Rica, among the youth, in churches and ministries across the country. It was a really great time of fellowship, both with the outreach team and with my "tico" and "tica" friends that I have met on past visits. Pray for unity among the believers in Costa Rica; that initiatives like the Bible distribution project with cross denominational and organizational barriers. Pray that those receiving the Bible for the first time will be drawn into communities that will nourish them and challenge them in their faith. We can also pray for Costa Rica's huge tourism industry: that travelers that make the trip to Costa Rica for physical rest and vacation will come to find rest for their soul as they are ministered to by the people of God in that nation.
SBS outreach team in prayer before a ministry time.
SBS student teaches a youth group about Ephesians and the armor of God.
With friends from Pura Vida Missions on an excursion to San Jose
Taking the bus...
Fellowship around the YWAM dinner table: Heredia, Costa Rica
"Mele Kalikimaka" from the Big Island! This week saw the end of our nine month School of Biblical Studies. On Wednesday I had the privilege of graduating students from China, Palau, Switzerland, South Korea, Finland and the United States; and commissioning them into a new season of fruitfulness in the Kingdom of God. Several of them will be attending SBS outreach, traveling to Costa Rica to teach the Bible and Bible study tools there, some are returning to staff YWAM training schools here in the Islands, and some are returning to their homes and mission fields to be a light and a witness in their own communities. These past nine months I have witnessed the faithfulness of God in some amazing ways, from financial provision, to visas for international students, to physical healing. It has been an incredible privilege walking with these students, and partnering with you in the Kingdom work God is doing here in Kona and through our prayers and efforts in the nations.
Final week's class on Revelation with guest speaker, John Randerson!
break time with the class, lots of snacks and coffee
New projects, places and prayers In both my personal prayer life and in my prayer times for you as a ministry partners, I have really had the sense that God is speaking "new beginnings" as a crucial message for 2012. As I look back on the past year, and ahead to new challenges, the faithfulness that I have experienced from God translates to a sense of excitement and expectation for what He will do in the coming months. Even though there are always uncertainties, and steps God may ask each of us to take in faith, that faith can be founded on the fact that He has been worthy of the trust we've placed in Him, and will continue to prove Himself faithful into the future. As we celebrate Christmas and the holiday season with friends and loved ones, my prayer for you is that you are reminded of all the ways God has been faithful to you in 2011, and that as you look ahead to a new year, any doubts, worries or fears will be replaces by an expectancy to see how the Lord will prove his unending love and good intentions towards you in the next 12 months!
The Gospel spread among nations This spring I have several projects I will be working to get started. I will be taking some teaching trips to Central America, sharing in Bible schools there and visiting my students on their "outreach phase" of SBS. Along with this, I am hoping to do some networking and promoting of different ministries at work there. God is using his people in Central America to lead the way in areas such as music, literature, environmental stewardship as well as mercy ministries and justice incentives. Projects that really excite me, and I hope to be able to share more with you in the coming months as I network and advocate for some of them. As I return to Kona from visiting my home church for the holidays, I am beginning work on curriculum for a new course within the University of the Nations. My hope is to prepare a Bible course that will be comprehensive enough to give young people a solid foundation in the word of God, while at the same time providing each student with the opportunity to radically process their own call, and discover what God says in His word about the area of society they are called to revolutionize.
Prayer for Nations: United States I have felt compelled to pray for my own nation over this past month as we usher in a new year. In getting to travel to other nations and share the gospel, one of the things I have come to realize is how blessed I have been by the Godly heritage my nation has from it's birth. As I network with and hear reports from good friends serving in groups like International House of Prayer, The Call, and YWAM USA, I believe that the coming year is a critical time in the history of the United States to return fully to the Lord. I don't know exactly what this may look like, but I do think a major part of it will be the writing of "In God we trust" on the hearts of the people of my nation. The meaning may be lost on our dollar bills, but if the history in the Bible tells us anything, it shows that when people turn their hearts to the Lord he is faithful to bring healing and restoration to their land. As the people of God, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to get this ball rolling! Take time with me this Christmas season to pray for a radical return to the one all hearts long for, and a revelation of Jesus, born in a manger, now reigning in glory forever! My nation needs this message as desperately as any other. I pray that the good news brought in human form that we celebrate Christmas day awakens your heart in a new way this December 25th; and that the joy we know as believers is spread to family, friends and neighbors!
"See, I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a savior, who is Christ, the Lord!" Luke 2:11