Thursday, December 30, 2010

I am an Addict

So there I was an eager and naive college student in my second year at Oral Roberts University. I saw a sign advertising a week long, short term missions trip to Mexico. Having never been on missions before, I knew it was time to take my first trip. So I went, and that week changed my life.

God told me when I was twelve years old that I was going to be a missionary. Sitting in church one night, I heard, very clearly, God call me to full time missions. So there I was eight years later about to take my first ever missions trip.

The weeks before the trip our team spent several Saturdays learning our evangelism dramas. We were doing "Toymaker" by Impact Productions. My character was the soldier. So in my backpack, along with my toilet paper, pepto tablets, flashlight and Bible, I packed some camo paint, a set of BDUs (battle dress uniforms) and a toy machine gun.

Our ministry was the "street gang" method of street evangelism, made popular by Teen Mania Ministries. We would set up in a public place, attract a crowd through funny skits, and then "bring the hammer down" with our main evangelism drama, Toymaker. After the drama we would canvas the crowd, sharing the plan of salvation.

This scared me to death. I had never EVER witnessed to someone before.

We were at our first evangelism event. We did all our funny skits, then we did the Toymaker drama, then it was time to hit the crowd. The moment I had feared the most had come. At first I thought I would just stay back and do prayer support, and just wait and see if anyone needed help.

Then I saw him.

What struck me most were his eyes. I will never forget the look of his eyes, I can still picture them over twenty years later. His eyes betrayed many emotions. He was angry, he was confused, he was hurt, and he was crying. He needed Jesus, and he knew he needed Jesus. I asked him in Spanish, "Do you want to receive Jesus?" and he broke down. And through tears he prayed the Sinner's Prayer.

So in that mountain village in Northern Mexico, he found Christ. Using me with my broken Spanish, Jesus Christ, Creator of the universe, King of all the kings, reached down from Heaven and knocked on the door of this guy's heart, and this Mexican invited Christ in.

That moment changed my life. I will never forget how I felt, and I became addicted to that feeling. I became addicted to the feeling of being used. That somehow a weak and imperfect life could be used by God Almighty Himself to reach down from Heaven and touch a life.

I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life feeling that way. I wanted to spend the rest of my life being used.

I am still addicted.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas from the Moon


1968: The crew of Apollo 8 delivers a live, televised Christmas Eve broadcast after becoming the first humans to orbit another space body.

Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders made their now-celebrated broadcast after entering lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, which might help explain the heavy religious content of the message. After announcing the arrival of lunar sunrise, each astronaut read from the Book of Genesis.

How this went down at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Soviet Union is unknown, but it stands in stark contrast to the alleged message sent back to Earth several years earlier by cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space.

“I don’t see any God up here,” Gagarin reportedly said from his vantage point aboard Vostok I, although the accuracy of that statement has been challenged over the years.

The crew of Apollo 8 didn’t claim to see God, either, but they were clearly impressed by His handiwork.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Star Wars Lego Christmas Story

This was put together by Eric and Faith, enjoy.


In those days, the Emperor made a decree that a census of the whole Empire should be taken.


So Joseph went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.


The city was so full of people there was no room for them in the inn.


So they had to spend the night in a stable.


While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger.


And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.


An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them,


and they were terrified.


But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”


When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”


So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.


When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.


Later wisemen from the East came to Jerusalem.


They asked “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”


King Herod was greatly troubled by this. He told them, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”


After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.


On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts.


And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

Merry Christmas from the Anasco kids.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It is More Blessed to Give . . .

Today was spent getting things ready for Christmas celebrations at the Sonshine Center. The kids helped Chris and the rest of the Sonshine Learning Center staff get ready for a Christmas party, decorating, preparing gifts, etc. We then spent the evening going around Iloilo passing out meals to the poor on the street.

Danny and Chris at work

Eric and Danny filling bags of gifts

One of the most amazing things about missionary life is watching my children do ministry. We always say they are not "future" missionaries, they are missionaries now.

Faithy helping to bless a street family with a simple meal.

I miss watching my children play in organized sports. Eric was able to play t-ball and flag football in our life before missions. I really miss that. However, while scoring touchdowns or hitting home runs might one day get their picture in the day's newspaper, what they are doing here in Iloilo--spreading God's love, advancing His kindgom on this earth--has a more eternal impact.

More pictures from this day:

It is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:35

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Am I a Cool Christian?

Lately I have been trolling around other Christian blogs, and I am noticing a trend, the "edgy" or "hip" Christian bloggers are getting a large portion of the Internet, Christian blogging traffic. Cutting edge topics and arresting titles are the rule of the day. And this can be seen as a corresponding trend mimicking how the church is evolving, moving from the traditional to the more "today" or "hip." Instead of services, we have "gatherings." Instead of calling yourself a born-again Christian, you are a "Christ-follower."

Who doesn't want to be cool? Who doesn't want to be considered very "now?" I find myself a little envious of the cool kid Christians, with the high traffic blogs, who are considered "real" because they have controversial blog posts and are unafraid to use profanity. But rather than confirm to this, so I too can be considered cool, I feel a check in my spirit (I know that's an old-school Christianese phrase--see how outdated I am). I don't want to pepper my blog posts with d-bombs and f-bombs, and I don't want to start questioning all my long held beliefs just so I can be one of the hip Christians on the Internet.

I recently ran across this from the Wall Street Journal, the author talks about the perils of "wanna be" cool Christianity. The article addresses the very real problem of how the church is increasingly becoming more and more irrelevant in the Western society of 2010, how especially the young are leaving the church.

From the article:

"Recent statistics have shown an increasing exodus of young people from churches, especially after they leave home and live on their own. In a 2007 study, Lifeway Research determined that 70% of young Protestant adults between 18-22 stop attending church regularly."

The author goes on to detail how the church has reacted to this exodus:

"Efforts [were] made to rebrand Christianity as hip, countercultural, relevant. As a result, in the early 2000s, we got something called "the emerging church"—a sort of postmodern stab at an evangelical reform movement. Perhaps because it was too "let's rethink everything" radical, it fizzled quickly. But the impulse behind it—to rehabilitate Christianity's image and make it "cool"—remains."

And these attempts to be cool:

"There are various ways that churches attempt to be cool. For some, it means trying to seem more culturally savvy. The pastor quotes Stephen Colbert or references Lady Gaga during his sermon. For others, the emphasis is on looking cool, perhaps by giving the pastor a metrosexual makeover, with skinny jeans and an $80 haircut. Then there is the option of holding a worship service in a bar or nightclub. But one of the most popular—and arguably most unseemly—methods of making Christianity hip is to make it shocking. What better way to appeal to younger generations than to push the envelope and go where no fundamentalist has gone before?"

Here is what the author sees as the problem with all this coolness (and honestly I totally agree):

"But are these gimmicks really going to bring young people back to church? Is this what people really come to church for? Maybe sex sermons and indie-rock worship music do help in getting people in the door, and maybe even in winning new converts. But what sort of Christianity are they being converted to?"

His argument is that people want real Christianity, not a gimmick or something trendy.

"If we are interested in Christianity in any sort of serious way, it is not because it's easy or trendy or popular. It's because Jesus himself is appealing, and what he says rings true. It's because the world we inhabit is utterly phony, ephemeral, narcissistic, image-obsessed and sex-drenched—and we want an alternative. It's not because we want more of the same."

Christ offers something real, a true relationship with a loving God. He doesn't need the help of GQ magazine and Madison Avenue to reach the lost. In our efforts to evolve and modernize the Gospel, we must ensure that we are not diluting Christ's message of sin and redemption.

"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think." Romans 12:2 NLT

Thursday, December 02, 2010

What is Poverty (Repost and Update)

This is a repost of an amazing story from a few years ago:

What is poverty? The gentleman in the picture (wearing the blue tank top) lives in Calajunan, the city trash dump area. In the picture behind him you can see the mountains of trash. He works in the trash collecting things like pieces of metal and plastics in order to sell to recyclers. He lives in one of the most awful places I have ever been. Even though I have been to Calajunan many times, I always nearly toss my cookies whenever I go. On the surface he would be considered among the very poor--that he is living in extreme poverty. Actually he is a very good father with a blessed family. Through his work at the trash dump he has been able to send his kids to college. His oldest son graduates this year while another son is just starting. He walks to work, it probably takes him about five minutes. He probably thinks that anyone who commutes ninety minutes to work each way is living in poverty.

Through the satisfaction he has gained from his hard work, being able to put his sons through college and offering them a brighter future, he is probably richer than most.

Update: Go To Nations missionaries Nate and Abegail Shuck have started a new project in the Calajunan dump area. They are building a church in Calajunan with the goal of reaching that area with the Gospel of Jesus Christ through discipleship, a feeding program, children's ministry, and livelihood projects. This is an exciting new chapter in ministry here in Iloilo.