Sunday, June 28, 2009

Let There Be Light

I found an internet cafe tonight here in Jinja and had a few extra minutes, so I thought I'd give a quick update. Ministry is going really well. The Lord is blessing in an amazing way already. We've had 3 days of village ministry, and already our medical team has treated over 2100 people ranging from cases of malaria all the way up to limbs that need amputated or weird abnormalities and growths. Many of those we have to send away with little hope for their physical ailments, but, praise God, we have the Living Water of Christ to offer them. Several hundred people have made decisions to follow Christ through one-on-one counseling in the medical clinics. Thank You, Jesus.

I am loving the opportunity to teach these awesome Ugandan pastors. They soak it up like sponges. They are eager to learn more and more of the Word of God. Most of them have had absolutely no formal Bible training, so they eat it up. It's humbling, to say the least, to have this opportunity. I have learned far more from them and their example of faithfulness to God in the midst of great trials, than they have learned from me, for sure.

Please continue to pray for our team as we minister here. We have 3 more full days of ministry in the villages, and then we'll be heading home. There is so much darkness here, but the light of Christ is penetrating. One of my interpreters told me yesterday some disturbing news. He said that human sacrifices are on the rise here in Uganda. Children are going missing. Village people will pay up to 300 thousand shillings to a witch doctor to make a human sacrifice. It's a superstition rooted in the occult and has its nasty hold on much of this culture. They believe that prosperity will not come to their village or their home unless blood is shed. He told me of a recent case here in Jinja of a rich man who was building a large house. He took a young girl and lowered her down into a large hole under the foundation of the house and then buried her in cement. This is happening in 2009. So please pray that the light of Christ will penetrate this dark area. These are people who need the hope of Christ. May we share it boldly.

Friday, June 26, 2009

18-Year Old

When I talked to Josh this afternoon he was exhausted from the work today, but it was a VERY fruitful day!  He was able to lead an 18-year old to the Lord.  He told Josh he was in a dilemma because if he chose to accept Jesus Christ in his life he was choosing Christ over his family.  He knew he would be disowned by his parents and they would no longer pay for his schooling.  But Praise the Lord for the choice he made.  Pray for him as he starts this new life and for his family to see Christ in him!

The kids and I have had a GREAT relaxing last couple of days with our friends in the Raleigh/Durham area.  Thank you again for all your encouraging e-mails and calls.  They mean the world to us=)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Quick Update

I just talked to Josh on the phone for a few minutes and he is doing well.  They just finished their first day of ministry and will be back in the same village tomorrow.  They saw about 700 people in the clinic on this first day alone and Joy, his sister, has been leading up the school ministry.

Josh said he has really found his niche working with/teaching/mentoring those Ugandan pastors.  He said that they just soak up everything he tells them and that they are SO eager to learn.

Thank you everyone who has called to check on me and the kids and for all of the prayers for Josh and the team as well!  We couldn't do this without you all!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Uganda '09 Here We Go

Heading off to Uganda this afternoon. I'll catch up with the rest of the team in D.C. tonight and then we'll be on our way. Pray for us. Pray for my family. Pray that the Lord will give us a harvest of souls and that these young village churches will raise up an army for the kingdom of God. Why should the devil have all the armies? Why should he be allowed to take young children in the North and turn them into indoctrinated, blood-thirsty soldiers and completely rob them of their childhood? Pray that the domain of darkness that controls Uganda and Sudan and neighboring countries will be utterly broken and that the light of Christ will radically transform East Africa.

Check back here often for updates. Even if I can't post on the field, I'll try to have Tasha making some updates for me.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Laying Aside Skepticism ... just for a moment

Skeptics thrive on the miraculous! They get their conversation pieces from the magic shows. I know that's true in my own heart. I think because we see so much superficial garbage portrayed through the likes of the toupee-wearing, teeth-sparkling charlatans proclaiming a different sort of Gospel altogether. And so it's no wonder that for those of us trying to keep a level head and hold to Gospel-centered orthodoxy, we shutter at these insults. So, yes, there is wisdom in skepticism, especially of this sort. But, I also feel that there is wisdom to be had in leaning, at times, away from what might be our natural tendency toward skepticism and to embrace what God might be doing in front of our eyes, though it might be "out-of-the-box." Now, before you decide to impale me on a stake and burn me as a heretic, listen to this example from Acts 9 that I picked up on today, and see if it makes sense. It probably won't sound as big of a deal as I'm making it. So here we go:

Acts 9 - Saul's Conversion

Upon the Lord making known to Ananias that Saul of Tarsus, the great persecutor of the church, had just experienced the risen Savior and had his life completely transformed, Ananias did what most of us would have done ... he became skeptical.

13"Lord," Ananias answered, "I have heard from many people about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And he has authority here from the chief priests to arrest all who call on Your name."

That's exactly what I would have done. But the Lord is patient.

15 But the Lord said to him, "Go! For this man is My chosen instrument to carry My name before Gentiles, kings, and the sons of Israel. N)">16 I will certainly show him how much he must suffer for My name!"

I love that. Chosen instrument.

17 So Ananias left and entered the house ...

Wow. There's more to that verse, but I don't want to skip over this important phrase. He entered the house. He obeyed. He went--in spite of all that he had heard about Saul--in spite of the fact that there was a good chance that Saul could have slit his throat. He obeyed. Ananias laid aside his skeptic's glasses long enough to see through the lens that God was trying to place in front of him-- a lens that involved the primary mass-murderer and persecutor of Christians in the known world at that time coming to faith in Jesus Christ.

But the skepticism doesn't end there. Luke tells us later on in chapter nine that when Saul tried to have fellowship with the believers in Jerusalem, they shunned him. No one would even talk to him. They were freaked out that he might kill on their bodies or something. That he might go kamikaze with the wine glass in the middle of communion or something. I'm not sure. But they were skeptical, that's for certain, until ... Barnabas, yes, good ole Barnaby (whose name meant "Hello, Dolly!" ... No, it wasn't that ... it was something else ... Oh, yea, the "son of encouragement!") came over and extended the right hand of fellowship to Saul and put the hearts of the others at rest.

(Get to the point). I know. It takes me awhile sometimes. Especially once the kids go to bed and I can think clearly again and my fingers and mind come together in a beautiful wedding of thought as they simply can't get enough of the soothing, hypnotic clacking of the keys. Anyway, the point is this:

Skepticism, though a good thing in guarding solid, biblical orthodoxy,
can at times block us from seeing the bigger picture of what God is up to in the world.

The tricky part is discernment. That's where we need to ask God to give us His eyes and His perspective on what's going on around us so that we might be able to discern if it is, in fact, His hand at work. Thank God that Ananias laid aside his initial skepticism. Thank God that Barnaby laid aside Horace's wallet (oh, there I go again) so that he could see with God's eyes what was actually going on in the circumstances surrounding Saul. And who knows what might have happened had they not looked past their own tendency toward skepticism. That's all I'm saying.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Flashback Friday: Pogo Ball

Remember the pogo ball? ... yeah, I do ... the WORST toy ever conceived in the cruel mind of a man!!! I don't know what was worse, the humiliation of having all my onlooking friends mock my incompetence and inability to maintain balance on said piece of trash for more than 1.5 seconds, or the fact that I truly felt like a sorry excuse for a kid growing up in the 80s in suburbia USA, because what kid couldn't do the pogo ball??!!! Right?!! GARBAGE!!! That's what I say! But, I'm not bitter.


Acts 8

18When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money
19and said, "Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit."

20Peter answered: "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!
21You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God.

Simon was seeking a short-cut to intimacy with God. But there are no shortcuts. There are no quick formulas for getting certain things from God--no microwavable blessing waiting in a package. Spiritual maturity is a long, slow process, but one that is absolutely necessary for obtaining closeness with God.

What short-cuts am I trying to take in my Christian life? How about you?

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Lately I've been reading a book by my good buddy Wes McMurray. Wes is one of those friends from seminary days that I made an immediate connection with. I spotted Wes in the back of Dr. Heimbach's Intro to Ethics class. He wasn't hard to miss in our straight-laced Baptist school looking unapologetically emo in his tight band-t over his pencil-thin frame. I knew we'd be friends from day one. We sat next to each other everyday and talked about Brandtson and Postal Service and drew super heroes in our class notes using words with double-o's as a starting point for the eyes (i.e. "look" "book" "1200" etc.) Or maybe that last part was just me. I don't know. Anyway, one thing I immediately picked up on about Wes, was that he was, and still is, an incredibly bright student. Sharp as a tack. And he loved Jesus. That much was obvious. So, when he told me about a year ago that he was working on a book, I knew it was going to be phenomenal. And it is.

It's called Beyond All Measure. I'm just about done with it. It's a quick read, but I tend to think quick reads are overrated. Well, not quick reads themselves, only reading quick. I prefer dragging them out as much as ridiculously possible. And that's what I've done. And today, I'm especially glad I've been reading slow. Because I needed this. In his chapter regarding God and the problem of evil, Wes recounts an event in one of his classes that had an enormous impact on his understanding of this great paradox. He writes:

"I sat in a class one day as a professor came in and silently wrote on the chalkboard: Godisnowhere. He turned around and asked for someone to raise his hand and tell the class what he saw. Someone spoke up and said, "God is nowhere." The professor then asked if anybody else saw something different. A hand went up and a student replied, "I thought it said, "God is now here." It's interesting how people can look at the same situation and come away with such different explanations. For many people, the world's tragedies produce these two responses. Some feel that God is nowhere, while others experience His presence and can say, "God is now here." (p. 131)

Such a simple illustration, but it drives home the point.

I don't know where you're at in you're life today, but I know that difficult times are all around us. If they haven't hit you recently, they will. Tasha and I were at a church this past Sunday where almost the entire worship team spoke up during our pre-service prayer time to ask for prayer in the midst of great difficulty. It's all around us.

A good friend of mine lost his 24-year-old brother to drugs about 4 weeks ago. Another good friend is having to give his 2-year-old son a hormone shot every night before bed until he's 18 so he'll grow.

On and on I could go. Loss of a job. Death of a loved one. Terminal illness. Wayward children. Slander. Abuse. Misunderstandings. You name it. But in the midst of your situation, I pray that out of this: Godisnowhere, you would see this: God is now here! He is here, my friend. But do you recognize His hand at work in the midst of tragedy? That's the question.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Getting From God

"If we then try to make prayer a means of getting from [God] something we want more than we want Him, we are like a wife who asks her husband for money to visit another lover." - John Piper, A Godward Life, p. 356

Friday, June 12, 2009

Oasis Pics

Here are some pics from Oasis Camp '09. We got to hang with the guys from Tenth Avenue North for a little while on Saturday evening. They're great guys who really love Jesus and have some pretty great music as well.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Oasis Camp '09 Recap

The sporadically inconsistent blogger is back. We just arrived back into Charlotte last night after an extended weekend youth camp in Myrtle Beach, SC. And oh, how we've been suffering for the Lord! Right!

Anyway, it was an awesome weekend. We took the whole band, Andy Cherry, Tim Morrison, and Nate Proczak, and led worship for the student ministry of Ingleside Baptist Church. Andy, Tim, and Nate are some of my best friends, and I always love getting to partner with them.

This was the first time Ingleside has done their own camp, and they knocked it out of the park. It rivaled any Student Life camp I've ever been to. Fred and Scooter, the student pastors, put together a solid week for their 180 + students.

Bill Stanley, from Coco Beach, Florida brought the Word every session and did a great job connecting with students. Tasha and I enjoyed getting to know him and his wife for what will certainly not be the last time we do ministry together.

As we were leaving camp yesterday, the students surrounded our van for last minute pics and high-fives. And as we stood there with these students whom we had built a relationship with over the past 4 days, I just watched them. I watched them interact with my buddies in the band. I watched them hang on every word that the guys would say. I observed these young, impressionable students as they observed us, watched us, studied us. And as a result, I've been reminded of the incredible responsibility we have as older believers, as teachers, as worship leaders, as parents and mentors, to model our sincere faith in front of them--to live consistently what we believe in front of them, because they are watching us. Yes, a lost world is watching us, but so is the younger generation of Christ-followers. They want a model to follow. And they are looking for it in us. How incredibly humbling a truth that is. It reminds me of the words Paul encouraged Timothy with:

I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. (2 Tim. 1:5).

Let's live that sincere faith, because they're watching.

Check back for some pics from the weekend coming soon.