Okay, the title needs a little work, but I'm drawing a blank. I got to talk to Josh for quite a while today. They are doing GREAT! They had a great day of ministry. Yesterday they got to get into one of the most prestigious high schools in the country. They weren't expected to get in at all but Josh and his dad's interpreter used to be a student at this particular school, so they had a connection. They got to share in several of the classes. Today they went back and the school was having some kind of school-wide event and Josh was able to open up the function with a few songs and shared in-between. He seemed pretty excited about it all. The whole trip has been so fruitful. There is a basketball team with them as part of the mission team who are sharing and they have had quite an impact. Over 400 souls have come to know Christ if I'm correct. Praise the Lord for the plentiful harvest and the willing workers to go out and make the Lord's name famous!
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Well, Josh and Rick made it safely to Romania. I talked to Josh for a couple of minutes this afternoon and he sounded exhausted from their first full day of ministry. I'm not sure when I'll be able to speak with him again, but I'll keep you all updated. In other news, we think Zeke said his first word(s) today: "all done". It sounds more like "ah-du", but it's pretty cool none-the-less.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
I never realized before this morning the incredible odds that Josiah faced in turning the nation of Israel back to complete faithfulness and solidarity to Jehovah. 2 Kings 22 tells of his reforms as an 8-year old boy king committed wholeheartedly to God. I always admired Josiah as one of the godliest figures in Scripture, but something dawned on me this morning as I was reading this chapter and the preceding chapter – the odds were against him.
2 Kings 21 speaks of Josiah’s father and grandfather (both kings prior to Josiah) as being responsible for countless acts of wickedness and ungodliness in the nation. Manasseh, Josiah’s grandfather, held the longest reign of any of Judah’s kings, 55 years, thereby taking home the gold for holding the vilest, most wicked rule of them all. Here’s some of his exploits, to name a few:
1. worshiped stars and phallic idols (v.3),
2. sacrificed his son in the fire to Molech (v.6),
3. practiced witchcraft (v.6),
4. was responsible for leading the nation of Israel into worse atrocities than the nations God destroyed (v.9),
5. shed so much “innocent blood that he filled Jerusalem with it from one end to another” (v.16).
I could keep going, but I'll spare you.
Josiah’s father, Amon, would have likely taken the silver medal for foulest reign had he not been assassinated two years into it (likely by God-fearing men who didn’t want a repeat of the previous 57 years).
Enter Josiah – an 8-year old boy king raised by a godly mother, Jedidah, and, as it seems, “under the care of guardians who trained him in the principles and practice of piety” (JFB Commentary). Even so, Josiah had a choice to make on his own volition – he could choose to follow in the steps of his father and grandfather and live an utterly wasted life, or he could do the opposite. He could follow Yahweh unswervingly and with undying devotion. He chose the latter. I love how Eugene Peterson put it, “He lived the way GOD wanted. He kept straight on the path blazed by his ancestor David, not one step to either left or right” (The Message, 2 Kings 22:2).
The odds were against him, but Josiah broke the cycle of familial sin and divine disobedience. He found himself as a pre-adolescent on the struggling remains of a shipwrecked vessel careening into the rocks ahead and he made the choice to get off. He broke the cycle. He wanted no part in the history of vulgarity, ungodliness and horrific patterns begun by his father and grandfather. He beat the odds.
I’m grateful for a dad who beat the odds. He’s my hero. I thank God everyday that he beat the odds – that he broke the cycle. The Lord only knows where his children would be today if he hadn’t. Now the baton is in my hand.
I’m privileged to accompany my dad this week on a mission trip to Satu Mare, Romania. Pray for us as we preach the Gospel to this needy country. Pray that the Holy Spirit will “open the eyes of their hearts” (Eph. 1:18) to see the glorious riches of Christ.
So, thank God for the people in your life who broke the cycle of sin. Maybe God is raising you up for that very purpose.
- “Now suppose he has a son who sees all the sins his father has committed, and though he sees them, he does not do likewise.”
Ezek 18:14 (HCSB)
(see Steve Farrar's book Finishing Strong for more on breaking the cycle.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Right now I'm teaching Tasha how to post blogs. Hopefully while I'm gone to Romania she'll be able to keep it updated with what's happening on our trip. This could get interesting!
Here's her first attempt:
Ok...um...Josh is laughing, but he's the one that had this brilliant idea! I like to read blogs and comment, but actually writing one is a little intimidating to me. If I were just writing about my day with the kids I could write a novel...wait I do have the password now, I can write what I want. I do promise to keep you all updated on Josh too!
Thursday, May 17, 2007
One of my favorite worship songs right now is “Mighty to Save” by Hillsong Australia. Taken from Isaiah 63:1, the song tells of the mighty power of the cross and the power of Christ to break the chains of sin and bring us salvation. I highly recommend this tune for any church worship service, regardless of worship style. (Rabbit Trail: Right now I'm listening to the brand new project by Hillsong United "All of the Above." It's AMAZING! Thanks to Steven Chapman at Southbrook Church for somehow getting ahold of an advance release copy since it doesn't even come out in the U.S. until next week. Okay, back on track.)
One thing the Lord is reiterating to me over and over again is that the message of the cross must never become dull, peripheral, or mundane to the believer who has been saved for a while. What a scathing reminder to me. It’s easy to get caught up in the routine of Christianity even to the point that we hold, as C.J. Mahaney puts it, “a preoccupation with (our) own personal godliness.” Granted, as he further explains, we should be concerned with personal godliness and holiness, but it must never be pursued “apart from joyful gratitude for the cross” (The Cross Centered Life, p. 106, from which much of this post stems). The gospel message is perpetual, and it must be daily resuscitated in our hearts as we meditate on the mighty power of God to save us.
In Morning and Evening, Spurgeon has some cool things to say about God’s power to save and the everlasting nature of the gospel. He says “the divine power is equally seen in the after-work (of salvation). The life of a believer is a series of miracles wrought by ‘the Mighty God.’ . . . Does your own case trouble you? Fear not, for His strength is sufficient for you. Whether to begin with others, or to carry on the work in you, Jesus is ‘mighty to save;’ the best proof of which lies in the fact that He has saved you” (Morning and Evening, January 14).
I love that last phrase. We are the proof of God’s power to save. So, look in the mirror every morning and praise God for His power to save and, as Jerry Bridges says in the Discipline of Grace, “preach the gospel to yourself everyday.”
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Is this even bloggable? or worthy of a blog? Today I mailed off like 5 letters, only to realize a few minutes ago that I forgot to add additional postage!! Unbelievable! That's like throwing $2 in the garbage can, plus the additional postage when they are returned to me so that I can mail them again. That's brilliant! I wonder how much postage normal U.S. citizens like me are throwing away this week alone. If if hear a total I'll let you know. Note to bloggers: Add .02 cents before you mail anything.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
My wonderful wife was radio surfing the other day during her commute home. As fate would have it, she stumbled upon a contest. Yes, one of those. And so she came home with the brilliant idea that we would participate in this contest for the chance to win $500. "Sure," I said. "Why not." She then informed me that she simply needed to take a photograph of her husband performing some chores around the house in a pose that could be described as "a mother's fantasy."
Being the honoring husband that I am, I followed through - so much so that I'm sure it will mean my downfall and the beginning of Zeke's complex. Why? you ask. Well, just follow this LINK and you'll discover why. And while you're at it, go ahead and cast your vote for us (We're contestant #1, by the way). Tasha will be grateful. And the kids' college fund will too.
Monday, May 07, 2007
So, I’m pretty jacked up right now. I just returned from Thirsty ’07 over the weekend with some of the worship team from Southbrook Church. What an awesome experience. I got to see all of my worship leader heroes (Charlie Hall, Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, and Matt Redman) do what they do best. One of the highlights for me was a breakout session led by Matt Redman. Here’s some tidbits I picked up about worship song writing from Redman that might be of some benefit to someone out there in the blogosphere.
“Innovating and Excavating: Learning from the past to move into the Future”
· “Without tradition, art is a flock without a shepherd. Without innovation, art is a corpse.” – Winston Churchill
· Focus Scripture: Matthew 13:52 – He said to them, "Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old."
· Check out Cyberhymnal.org
· The worshipping church is like a building. We build on the past - the ceiling of one generation is the floor of another.
· Hymn writers were purposeful in their writing – they weren’t all over the place.
· Be conscious that your songwriting plays into people’s view of God.
· “You can have a thousand ideas, but unless you capture an emotion, it’s just an essay.” – Bono
· Bruce Springsteen could take something ordinary and write about it and make it sound extraordinary – but we often do the very opposite in our songwriting about God.
· Paint a big picture of God:
o Fanny Crosby: “healing stream”
o Isaac Watts: “thorns compose so rich a crown”
· Find a balance between being “meaty” while at the same time being digestible.
· Inhale – Exhale concept
o Inhale: Breathing in profound truth and doctrine on the verses (i.e. “He wraps Himself in light and darkness tries to hide and trembles at his voice”
o Exhale: Breathing out a simple expression of worship on the chorus (i.e. “How great is our God, sing with me, how great is our God . . .”
This week I received an e-mail from Godfrey Wanamitsa, my good friend from Jinja, Uganda. A couple of months ago I wrote a post about the scary situation that happened to his family and the subsequent need for a concrete wall around their property for protection. Many of you helped to support this great cause financially, so I want to share his e-mail with you - maybe you can begin to get a small glimpse of the heart of this man of God. There's no question that God is using this family to shake the country of Uganda, Africa with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Here’s what he had to say with no editing.
Dear Joshua and Tasha
It is always a joy to hear from you thank you so much for all you do for
the Lord and for all you have done to raise funds for a wall around my
house. I have raised the entire wall practically around my house and
right now trying to put a gate on the wall and should be finished in about
three days. With this the funds will be finished but I will be having a
wall. I and family are grateful and will fill more secure than we have
My wife was sharing with me today how she feared when I left her at home
by her self on Friday when I went for burial of my young sister who died
on Tuesday last week.
She was glad that eventually a gate is going to be put up.
I will send you the pictures of the wall progress.
In my last letter to you I did promise to be praying for you and for your
family and as soon as I can I will begin supporting your ministry. It
sounds like a joke but I will trust the lord even though it is one dollar.
I should be one of the first people to begin supporting you any way, but
please pray for me, as you know the great needs we have in Uganda.
My love to your family and to all Vias.