October 22, 2014 § Leave a comment
(This letter was written by another one of our staff on the trek Spenser, and despite his many disclaimers, he is an incredible writer and this letter gives you a taste of what a blessing my team was to me in shaping my faith and perspective)
My Dear Friends,
June 7, 2014 § Leave a comment
Blog excerpt from Ryan Hammil:
On June 25th, our Global Urban Trek team will arrive in Thailand to live in a Bangkok slum for over a month. We will stay with a family, serve with the local church, and learn about urban poverty and what it means to do “incarnational” ministry. This term is taken from the Incarnation, the event in which God took on flesh and became human—Jesus’ birth. In the same way that God became like the people he wanted to reach, so incarnational missionaries become like the poor they want to reach. In what is essentially the textbook of the Global Urban Trek, Scott Bessenecker describes this missional incarnation as, “breaking out of the padding that separates and protects us from the harsh realities of poverty by embracing it voluntarily and stepping into relationship with the poor without the power dynamic that is normally present between the poor and nonpoor.”
One week left til the Trek begins.
June 2, 2014 § Leave a comment
As you know, I have about 2 weeks until I leave for Thailand for the rest of the summer. I don’t know if I am just naturally born to over-think everything, or if people just choose to leave this part out whenever they begin their missions training because it’s not too pretty, but parts of these last few weeks have been the most uncomfortable weeks I have ever experienced because reflecting on my life in light of the gospel has been nothing short of emotionally unsettling. Colliding with my own character at its root began to accumulate into feelings of anger, irritation and, in all, I flat out became disillusioned with our generation.
Mostly because we have this faith– but do we really? And then when we get a glimpse of how flawed we are and try to commit to changing our lives, we become complacent with the work-in-progress mode. Ironically, how many of us are actually stagnant in that phase today? Bottom line is there is no urgency with sharing the gospel like there is to finish your education, or attain the status in a job you believe you deserve. We don’t consider time being wasted when we sit in our cubicle at our 9-5 job, but we consider how much time we have to set aside in our lives to partake in missions, or how much time we will “waste” in the process—I mean how absolutely backwards is that last one? I also began to think about the concept of sin and how we still cling to the bondage Christ freed us from. How we all entertain it, let it break us, and how we let it create this colossal chasm between us and a God that sacrificed it all for us—and then the cherry-on-top fact that we know all these things, but somehow can’t avoid it? That we are actually that weak.
Anyways, throughout all those “fun” (half bitter—sorry working on it) thought processes up there I’ve come to the conclusion that I think it all boils down to focus. Me choosing to focus on my failures won’t solve much, and if anything will escalate into fear or insecurity. I think what I’m beginning to realize is all of us have these unique failures because we are all so different, so naturally we have different definitions of what failure looks like. Failure could be our focus, or our focus could instead be on channeling the unique perspectives we’ve gained from our failures to allow God’s grace to consume us. For me, personally, all the junk I am going through right now is so necessary because it is now keeping me desperate for grace—and that by NO means is any justification—we have to constantly keep reminding ourselves that this relationship we are even able to have with God is solely by His mercy. I am teaching myself to stop being discouraged when I look at how perfect Jesus is and compare it to how broken I am because, in all, it just makes the story of grace an even more captivating one.
But He said to me “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Initially, prep for this trip cultivated many doubts that I was ready for this kind of experience, but the first step in preparing actually was my realization that I needed to rid my mind of the idea that I’d be doing anything at all. If we give Christ’s power room to work, His power will speak for itself. Learning to be strong isn’t anything we will do ourselves. It is actually the realization that we are weak and flawed, and that through our weakness Christ is revealing His power.
So again, it all redirects back to focus. Are we going to be focusing on how discouraged we are by our weakness, or focused on how Christ’s power is revealed through our weakness?
April 5, 2014 § Leave a comment
Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Growing up, if I had been asked to select my favorite verse in the bible, this would be it. Makes sense, right? The something-about-being-happy-and-God’ll-give-us-what-we-want verse. And nothing is too big/great for my God, so naturally I’m setting myself up for a win-win situation in one simple step. That’s how we’re engineered as humans. We treat God’s favor as if we need to complete a few steps from scripture to earn it, as if grace wasn’t a gift. How many of us skip over the sheer beauty of the first part of the verse, and end up putting our hope in the second part because that’s the part that benefits us. That’s the part that might make some of our obstacles a little more bearable in the morning because something we want will come to us soon, you know if we pray. Or if we’re patient. There are lots of things about waiting and (wait for it)… being patient in the bible. But hey, we’re busy people and we skip over those parts.
“Take delight in the Lord,” do we really understand what this is asking? This is asking for a process, not a step. Remembering to take delight in the Lord when things are going smoothly, and not attributing everything to ourselves. Also taking delight in the Lord when we are hopelessly trying to stitch the broken fragments of our world back together. Fixing the problem ourselves (of course) because unless we are focusing on the last part of that verse, the part where our abundant God is just going to give us what we want, we don’t really want His help.
Here is my 2.0 take on this verse: At the point in my life that I decide to truly take delight in my God, through His blessings and trials, my desires begin to align with His will for my life. He becomes my prize, His will becomes my way, and I begin to trust Him. I believe at this moment the desires of our hearts won’t be put in temporary things that will soon pass. At this moment, the moment that we fully take delight and joy in Him, He has become the sole desire of our hearts, which is why He can fulfill our needs because what we actually desire is Him. It’s always been Him, and in fact, He’s already given Himself to us. God sacrificed Himself to give us another shot at a relationship with Him because He is our desire. If that isn’t enough reason for you to take delight in the Lord today, I won’t be able to give you a better one.
I once had a thousand desires, but in my one desire to know You, all else melted away
March 4, 2014 § 1 Comment
When we say things like “people don’t change,” it drives scientists crazy because change is literally the only constant in all of science. Energy. Matter. It’s always changing, morphing, merging, growing, dying. It’s the way people try not to change that’s unnatural. The way we cling to what things were instead of letting things be what they are. The way we cling to old memories instead of forming new ones. The way we insist on believing despite every scientific indication that anything in this lifetime is permanent. Change is constant. How we experience change, that’s up to us. It can feel like death, or it can feel like a second chance at life. If we open our fingers, loosen our grips, go with it, it can feel like pure adrenaline. Like at any moment we can have another chance at life. Like at any moment, we can be born all over again.