Today I just want to briefly and rapidly hit upon a wide variety of thoughts and reflections about the blessings of God from the past week. So here goes:
When God comes a knocking…. It’s funny how things work out and fall into place sometimes. Before leaving Springfield, I was gainfully employed at child paradise Toys R Us. As an employee, I was able to take quizes on Microsoft items through a website they had set up for retail store employees to better know about their products and how to sell them, which I did on occasion to increase my knowledge of our video game section. Through taking quizzes, you were entered into contests to win Microsoft swag. I never really thought much about it outside of trying to be a better salesman. Flash forward to the past week. Nikki and I have discussed how we’d like to get a Macbook for our ministry. It would be invaluable for my teaching, class preparation, powerpoint slideshows for class, etc., but also for the fund-raising side of our ministry, being able to put together high quality video and pictoral presentations. So imagine my surprise when a package shows up in the mail this week. I had qualified for a contest through one of the Microsoft quizzes I had taken before I left and one a copy of Microsoft Office: Mac! I’ve never won a thing in my life, and now I have the programs I will need once we have a Macbook. It is cool to see how the Lord provides when we least expect it.
Making new friends. Sunday Nikki and I had the opportunity to visit a church in Wichita that has taken us on for support. In fact, this was the first pastor we sat down and met with, and he was a huge encouragement to us. From the moment we walked in the doors, I was struck by how friendly and welcoming the people were there. Immediately a man began talking to us, showing us around and befriended us. In Sunday School we got to speak for a few minutes, but even before hand everyone in there was so talkative with us and eager to get to know us. We presented ourselves in the service and gave a testimony about ourselves and our ministry, and presented the pastor with a piece of art Nikki had prepared. Afterwards, while handing out our prayer cards and greeting people as they exited, we were surrounded by so many who just took an interest in us and talked with us and promised to pray for us. One man shared about his connection with another church and said he would talk to that pastor on our behalf, and expressed a desire to keep closely connected. A woman involved in the Awana ministry invited us to come be a part of it in the fall and share with the kids. I had so many great conversations. The church was filled with excitement over their neighborhood outreach bloc party they were having that afternoon and so many people were volunteering their time to make it work. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a church that has just been so warm and friendly. Those people were living out Christ in their community. What a privilege it is for us to be a part of their church now.
How do you say Beard Face in Tagalog? I just found out tonight that my one of my best friends from high school, Kevin McCarty, has been working on a secret project the past couple of months through his blog. He has called it Translate That Beard, and he has been raising money to purchase the Rosetta Stone for Nikki and me. I was just humbled by the generosity of my friend. He has always been such an encouragement to me and I am so blessed to have a friend like Kevin. Even more so, I am blessed that so many of our friends have been contributing to this and they are close to having the money raised. I just want to thank Kevin, and all of those who have pledged to Translate That Beard for their friendship and love. I know that the Lord will count the fruit of our ministry to you for your part in supporting us.
All is Grace. Last week I enjoyed an excellent film by director Robert Bresson called Diary of a Country Priest. Bresson was known for allowing his faith to inform his sparse, simple film-making, often with undertones of spirituality, salvation, and redemption. This film from 1951 focuses on the new Priest of Ambricourt, a young man with a passion for ministering to his people, but who faces discouragement from the older generation of priests, apathy and self-centeredness from the people around him, and an internal struggle with God stemming from his failing health and his difficulty praying. There are some areas of theological disagreement I would have with the film, but sifting through the narrative yields much as the passion of the Priest of Ambricourt passionately pursues bringing God’s grace to the people of the village. In one notable scene, he has a raw and moving debate with a local woman who has spurned God and been overcome by bitterness since the death of her young son. The Priest even goes as far to tell her that she is in danger of separating herself from her son for eternity if she doesn’t seek to get her life right and turn to the Lord (a bold statement for a Catholic priest, and one that gets him in trouble with his superiors). In the end she comes to recognize the bitterness that is slowly destroying her family and separating her from the Lord and she repents of it and turns to God. She writes the Priest a letter that night expressing the profound peace she now has, and she passes away that night. What I especially took away from the film was the need to be passionately consumed for the souls of those around us, and to not allow our endeavors to reach them with God’s grace to be looked down upon because of our methods or our youth. I like what Pastor Perry Noble said along these lines this past week in his sermon, that he was going to do everything short of sin to see people get saved, and if you can’t rejoice in souls receiving life and people’s lives being transformed, then you probably better check which team you are on. We get caught up on too many trivial issues and we forget our purpose and our passion. We need to reach the world!
They Say Its Your Birthday! This past weekend we celebrated Nikki’s birthday and it was a blast. We spent Friday in Wichita having fun and I tried to show her a good time and make her feel special. On Saturday we had dinner at home with friends and played board games. I was a little worried because I had a lot to live up to this year. Last year for her birthday, I proposed to Nikki and had an event filled day planned out for her. She is so special to me and each day with her is a gift from God. I’ve learned so much about the love of Christ, forgiveness, grace, and more through our relationship. I love you Nikki and I want you to know everyday how important you are to me.