Tuesday, June 24, 2014

This Week...

This week I have the privilege of going back to one of the places that had an influence over me as a kid.  Camp.  Growing up, Kan-Ok Bible Camp was one of the highlights of my summers.  There are lots of things I remember- making new friends, singing in the dining hall, skit night, pranks, and so much more.  And along with all the fun we learned about God.  That's one of the things I appreciate most as I look back at my time there.  Between hearing a speaker twice a day, praise and worship, planned personal devotion time, Bible trivia "baseball", and cabin devotions in the evening it was clear that God was the priority.  

In college I worked for four summers as a counselor at a camp near where I live, and there I got some experience in how much goes into making a successful camp.  Sometimes at the end of the day I would be very tired and really tempted to just send my campers to bed without taking time to do devotions, but then I would think of what camp was like for me as a camper at Kan-Ok.  I remember the dedication of my counselors, especially toward spiritual things- even if we couldn't get everything else done we would make God a priority. I also saw great examples as they kindly helped and worked with some of the more difficult campers.  Seeing this example not only has helped me as a counselor, but also in everyday life.

So this week I am going back.  This time I'll be helping with the cooking.  I am looking forward to seeing God work at camp, and I pray that this week will be a time where hearts and lives are changed and a new generation is given an example!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

It's a Big Deal

Five years ago I never would have thought that I would watch an entire televised soccer game- and be interested! Spending time in Honduras in 2009 and 2010 changed that. In 2009 I got to see the excitement as Honduras qualified for the World Cup. It was fun to watch the game with the staff and students of El Sembrador. And the excitement of realizing that Honduras would go to the World Cup was really something to see!

When I returned to the school in 2010 I was excited that I would get to be in Honduras during the World Cup. Something I had not realized when I had watched the qualifying rounds was that before 2010 Honduras had only made it to the World Cup once before, back in 1982.   

Soccer really isn't as big of a deal in the US as it is in many other countries around the world, so if you are wondering why it's a big deal, here are 5 Facts about the World Cup.

1) 204 teams competed to be in the World Cup, and only 32 qualified.
2) With that many teams trying to qualify, qualifying rounds last 3 years!
3) It is the world's most viewed televised sporting event. Almost half of Earth's population tuned into at least a minute of the 2010 World Cup.
4) The World Cup is hosted by a different country every time. In 2010 it was played in South Africa, and it is currently being held is Brazil. This is Brazil's second time to host. The next World Cups will be hosted by Russia and Qatar. 
5) With so many different countries competing, some of the teams have made some interesting requests for their hotel rooms.  France wanted each room to have 2 kinds of soap.  Ecuador wanted different types of Ecuadorian bananas.  Rather than make demands at an existing hotel, Germany built their own hotel to their specifications.

One thing I enjoy about watching is seeing nations from all over the world come together for a common reason.  Of course they come to compete, and I am sure that there are rivalries.  It's still cool to think of that many countries gathered.

As big of a deal as the World Cup is, it can't really compare to a much greater gathering of nations that is to come:

"After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”" Rev. 7:9-10 (ESV)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Story

God's doing something really great in the world.  Did you know that He always has been?  In a world when the news is filled with horrible stories and depressing reports it's easy to lose sight of how God is at work.  From the day Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden, God has been working to restore man's relationship with Him.  In the Old Testament we see how God showed Himself to the Israelites, and showed Himself to the nations through the miracles He did for the Israelites.  Then came the turning point of all History: the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  Jesus was not born into a position of power and esteem.  No, the King of the Universe, of all Time, of Everything that ever Was, Is, or Will Be, was born in a manger in a stable. Jesus did not become wildly popular.  Crowds followed Him at times, but as soon as they figured out that He wasn't the kind of Messiah they were expecting they fell away.  At the time of His death and resurrection, the number of followers was very, very small.

But Truth doesn't just go away, and it cannot be silenced.  From very small numbers Christianity has grown.  Harsh terrain and language barriers cannot stop the spread. Even persecution cannot stop the Gospel from changing lives.  Two Sundays ago I heard the testimony of a man from Pakistan who was persecuted for His beliefs.  He cannot return to Pakistan, but before he left he helped to found over 20 churches, and He still continues work there and in other countries where Christians suffer for proclaiming Jesus.  Last Sunday, my Sunday school class watched the movie the End of the Spear about the 5 missionaries who gave their lives bringing the Gospel to the Waodani tribe in Ecuador.  Church history is full of examples of those who have given up everything, including their lives for the sake of the Gospel.

What difference does it make?  All of the difference.  Nothing but the Truth could be this powerful.  Nothing but the  Truth could survive so much or grow from so little.  And nothing but the Truth could be so transforming.

Did you know that Brazil is the #2 sender of missionaries?  South Korea, India, South Africa, the Philippenes, Mexico, China, Columbia, and Nigeria (and othes) all send out notable numbers of missionaries. Did you know that there are missionaries from Honduras to other countries?  I've met some of them!    This is huge!  The scale of the Gospel is gigantic.  It spans all Time, and all continents.  It is meant for all peoples.

We serve an Awesome God who is doing Awesome things!