Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A year already?

It's hard to believe we've been here over a year already...and kind of hard to remember what life was like before at the same time. So many things have changed along with the "big change" that I may not be able to put them all into words. But I'll make an attempt.

Mt. Rainier Sunrise....by Sammy

The first thing I think of is, we've spent a year "training to be missionaries", but what does that mean exactly? Have we been street witnessing? (no). Serving the homeless? (once). Going on short-term missions trips? (not yet, but Gabe is heading to Bachiniva, Mexico in October to help build an orphanage with our church; check out the project: Casa de Bendicion). So what have we been doing all year?

Honestly, from the outside, I don't know that our lives look that different than they did before. The changes are more subtle yet significant. For example:

  • We've learned to live on a much lower income with one car, less space and less entertainment. And are a happier family for it.
  • Gabe's been home a lot more than when he was working and we have all enjoyed more time together and a slower pace of life not filled with so many activities.
  • We're actually involved in a church and doing ministry/volunteering rather than just sitting on the sidelines. It's amazing. We have been blessed with some incredible relationships within our church and can definitely see the way we are being discipled there as one of the reasons we were led to WA.
  • We tried homeschooling. I would almost call it an "epic failure" except that with the Lord nothing is wasted. We learned a lot; I learned I have a lot less patience than I thought I did! And I did enjoy some special times with the kids. So far this year we are clearly led to be part of the local public school. The kids are doing great, making friends with kids and adults alike. Their PE teacher is a believer and not shy about it. Pray for us as we seek to minister to the kids and teachers at Eatonville Elementary.
  • We've worked hard on parenting, adding Asher into the mix in March. We are all having to grow and pitch in as a family of five, and it's really cool how we've seen the kids step up and take more responsibilities. We're growing in grace balanced with rules, trying to be more relational as the Father is with us even as we learn to submit to His authority. We are blessed just this week that Sammy has decided he wants to obey the Lord and be baptized! Pictures/video to come after this Sunday.
  • We've also worked harder on our marriage, including a Love&Respect course over the summer. We really learned a lot and are being blessed with more time together as we both grow in our understanding of each other. Or at least I finally learned what "respect your husband" is all about! :-)
  • We are growing in our personal Bible study and prayer time, both individually and as a family. It has been one of those things we put off and were inconsistent with in the past, but now we have discovered it is our lifeblood. As Christ said :“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." John 15:5 (NKJV)
  • Gabe has gotten a lot of valuable aviation mechanic experience with multiple things broken on multiple aircraft in the last year! Now, praise God, most of the planes are up and working and he is getting more flight time in to prepare for flying in the mission field, wherever that may be!
  • We are continuing to see the Lord's hand at Trinity as He provides labor, materials, new students, volunteer instructors, leadership, fellowship, and community among us. Please pray that we and the leaders and staff will continue to seek His direction as the school grows!
A big question we get asked frequently and have heard since the beginning is "where to next?" And the answer would be "the Lord knows." We don't. He hasn't given us a particular country or area of the world yet, although we both definitely feel called to foreign missions somewhere. We are open to wherever He sends us and whatever organization He will use (or not) to get us there. We really have peace knowing that He knows the next step and we'll get there day by day.

Thank you to everyone who has followed us on this journey so far; your prayers have upheld us and your encouragement means more than we can say!



Friday, September 7, 2012

Why we do it



Jesus of Galilee was a historic figure. He caused a ruckus. Flavius Josephus, Jewish historian to the Roman Ceasar in the first century, mentioned him by name as a teacher and healer, whose posse continued in his footsteps after he was gone, claiming he had risen from the dead.

This Jesus character is often equated with other teachers in history - Buddha, Mohammed, Gandhi, Confucius - but that’s because some people have no idea what he taught. When you read his teachings (check out John 8:23-24), there’s only 3 conclusions you can come to:

1. He was a lunatic, who actually thought he was God
2. He was a lying con-artist, fooling people into thinking he was special
3. He was the Messiah, the promised God-With-Us

If either of the first two are correct, how can anyone say he was a “good teacher”? He led people to their deaths! If you recall, David Koresh was labelled a madman for the same thing; he was a lunatic con-artist that abused people’s trust while he was alive, and led them to their deaths in a compound in Waco, Texas. Was he a “good teacher”?

Let us examine the message that Jesus preached consistently for 3 years, and determine whether it’s even a “good” teaching.

Hanging out on Mt. Rainier

From Day One of his ministry, Jesus commanded people to “repent” (Matt 4:17). The word “repent” means “to change your mind.” This implies there was something he wanted people to repent from, “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” To the man who had been crippled 38 years, whom Jesus had just healed, he said “sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you” (John 5:14). To the woman caught in adultery (an offence punishable by death), he said “go, and sin no more” (John 8:11).

This concept of sin is everywhere in the Bible, starting in Genesis 3. To “sin” is to depart from the way of God. God is perfect, and perfectly holy. This means he can have nothing to do with our sin - whether or not we think it’s a big deal. You haven’t murdered anyone, you say, so God shouldn’t have anything against you. Don’t miss the concept of “holy”: sacred, set-apart, separate. God is set apart in His perfection. He cannot, by His very nature, have anything to do with sin.

Because of this, we who are not perfect fall short of God’s standard (Rom 3:23). And because of this, we can’t hope to have a relationship with God. In fact, we’re condemned to being separate from God, both now and after we die. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t murdered - that’s not the standard. Perfection is.

Jesus talked about Hell as if it were real. He talked about those who would be cast into outer darkness. He talked about the lake of fire. He talked about judgment and torture. He knew what awaits us, and for this reason he preached “Hell and Damnation” over and over again. Interestingly, he preached it most to those who thought they were okay with God (Matt 23:13). If you are thinking you’re doing alright, think again. 


...and Believe.

Believe in what? Believe that if we are good enough, we’ll make it to Heaven? By whose scale of justice is that supposed to work? Believe that there are many ways to Heaven, and a loving God wouldn’t condemn anyone to something as awful as Hell? This loving God died so you wouldn’t have to go to Hell, but you assume you can come up with a better way?

Here’s where Jesus got really wonky. He said you have to believe in him, and only him (John 3:16, John 3:18 ). He said that believing in him involved laying down your own life (ie, your desires, your philosophies, your way of living) and submit wholly to him (Matt 16:25), truly putting your hope and trust in him as your only way back to God’s good graces (John 3:17-18, John 14:6).

As if that weren’t enough, Jesus tells you that you need believe one more thing. That he is God (John 10:25-39, John 14:7-9). This is, in fact, why he was put to death. The Pharisees, who had put Judas up to bringing them Jesus, blatantly asked him if he was the Promised One, the Messiah. Jesus answered in such a fashion that the Pharisees tore their clothing, the sign that God had been blasphemed: He said I AM (Mark 14:60-64). This wasn’t a simple statement of identity as the prophet that Moses told the Israelites to expect. If that were so, the Pharisees would not have torn their clothing. Jesus said he was the I AM, which is how God identified Himself to Moses and the Israelites when He spoke through the burning bush (Exodus 3:14). This was how Jesus got himself condemned to death. To blaspheme God (try to smear Him by, for instance, saying He is less than He is) carried a death sentence by Mosaic law (Leviticus 24:16). And Jesus knew it (Luke 2:46-47).

And so he died. In his final moments, Jesus took on himself the sins of the world, and his perfectly holy Father in Heaven couldn’t have anything to do with him. In anguish, he cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). Just before he breathed his last, he said “It is finished” (John 19:30). He had finally finished the work that began immediately after Adam and Eve had separated themselves from God through sin (Genesis 3:14-15). He had bridged the gap between God and humanity.

Three days later, he began showing up to people all over Jerusalem, proving that he had conquered the death that we had earned through our sin (Acts 1:2-3). Those people then went on to torture and death themselves, writing that they considered it a blessing to be counted worthy to suffer as Jesus had!

This is what Jesus said you have to believe, with your whole self, if you want to be united with the perfect God who made you. If you want to find the answer to the riddle of life. If you want to spend eternity enjoying the unspeakable wonders God has prepared for you in Heaven (1 Cor 2:9).

Can you still call him “good teacher”?

* * * *

It is for this, the Good News (referring to the announcement that through Jesus, man can be reconciled to God), that we laid aside our lives and are seeking to add to God’s global fame. We think everyone should know Who God is and what God did to bring man back to Himself.

We are not becoming missionaries to “help people.” Humanitarian aide is a only a part of spreading God’s fame. It’s your soul and theirs that we’re concerned with, that you and they might know and be reconciled to God, and thereby bring Him more glory.

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”  -2 Corinthians 4:7

Ciara's first day of Kindergarten.
Sam's first day of Fourth Grade

Trinity Aviation Academy BBQ