Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Improbable Faith

I'm going to be posting a series of thoughts and reflections on our recent trip to the Philippines with our youth group. This one is in the form of a devotional for our church prayer newsletter that goes out to our "e partners in prayer".

Improbable Faith

Scripture Reading: James 5: 13-20,

It's been quite a week for our AIC family. Unbeknownst to me most of the time I was in the Phillippines with our youth, Pastor Ed was undergoing major eye surgery. Meanwhile, Pastor Aris and family are reconnecting with their families, also in the Philippines. Others in our church are preparing for, or have already departed for journeys of different purposes, lengths, and destinations. More families are readying themselves for missions or service trips.

Any way you look at it, while there is a perception that everything slows down over the summer, reality says that's not the case. Having worked with students for the majority of my time in full time ministry, summer always means some type of journey. This summer, it was the Philippines, then in a couple of weeks, it will be the States. The journeys of our lives never stop, do they?

On the Sunday before we were to leave for Davao, I found out that there was a fairly significant problem with one of our student's plane tickets. The name was incorrect, meaning, without quick action, he would not be allowed to board the plane.

Before anyone could say go, I was off. I first tried calling our travel agent, then someone else I thought could help, then finally, I was able to reach the office of the Philippine Airlines. Their news was not at all encouraging. I was told we would have to rebook the ticket, or just buy a new one, two answers I certainly did not want to hear.

I knew that Monday, the 2nd of July was a holiday so I would not be able to reach our travel agent to rebook the ticket with the correct name. Even before our trip began, we were already facing a crisis. Personally, this was becoming a crisis of faith. I was given a choice. I could wait until we arrived at the airport the next morning and beg the airline to help, or I could go ahead and purchase a new ticket online so that there would be absolutely no problems the next day. In my heart, I felt like I should step back and just wait; in my mind, I decided to begin the booking process of a new ticket. The process was almost fully completed when Melissa walked by and asked what I was doing. I explained it to her, she looked at me with a puzzled look and simply said, "Didn't we just pray about this? Don't you have any faith?"

There are those moments in our lives where the conviction of the Holy Spirit can feel like a punch in the stomach. In this case, that conviction came from the words of my wonderful wife, "Don't you have any faith?" The worst part was, when I have studied spiritual gifts, it has always come up that I have the gift of faith. Apparently I haven't been using my gifts.

In that brief moment of humiliation and conviction, my mind was drawn to the numerous times of Christ challenging His disciples with 4 words: "You of little faith". That was me! I was the "you of little faith". If I had just prayed about this situation, why was I trying so quickly to solve the problem for God? The answer was all too clear; I wasn't trusting Him.

When we enter into a relationship with God in prayer, too often we do so with a one sided agenda. Too often we ask God for things that we're not really expecting Him to handle. Or, we say we need His help but in our minds add the post script, just as long as it's on our terms. That doesn't seem to fit with the instructions James gives us on prayer. He calls us to call on the name of the Lord, believe in Him, and trust that God will answer, forgive, heal, and work out perfectly, according to His perfect will.

Prayer is a sacred privilege for Christ followers. It's a privilege that I too often take for granted. I'm embarrassed to have to write what little faith I had as I prayed over this situation. As I look back, it's even worse because I see how small an issue it really was. We arrived at the airport, got in line, talked to one lady, found proof of the correct name, and all was taken care of. It was that simple. I felt like a fool. I had no faith.

Even more, my lack of faith was shown through again. I had asked each of our students to be prepared to share their testimonies at different points in the week. When it came time for the student that almost didn't make it to share, God used his words in such powerful ways that I believe they will have an impact for years to come. Had I purchased that ticket on my own, that young man wouldn't have seen God work a miracle and may not have shared his story. I have so little faith.

May this day be a day of prayers of great faith. We do not know how God will answer, and that's okay. Our responsibility is to approach Him with prayers of faith, believing, knowing, and trusting that He is working, that He is Sovereign and will answer in His perfect way. Summer is a season of journeys, not the least of which is the journey of faith.

May God bless your prayers of great faith.


Sunday, April 29, 2007


Here are some pics of the flat we'll be moving into the middle of the month.
It's very similar to our current flat, only bigger, a bit further away and with some incredible views of the mountains. We're pretty excited but there are many details to work out, so please pray as we work though the process.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Contentedness is a slippery concept. Just when I think I'm doing pretty well, something creeps in and throws me off track.

I have been really looking forward to our family trip to Thailand. We're leaving tomorrow and I have been counting down for months. It's the perfect place for us to go, lots of great scenery, perfect for families, good hiking and other outdoor activities, paradise for us!

Then, on my favorite day of the year, Easter, I take a tumble. Nothing bad, but enough to rip a ligament in my ankle and set me down for a little while. I was so frustrated and discouraged at the fact that "my" vacation wouldn't be the same.

The more I think about it, the more I realize how it's not a big deal. At the end of the day, I will still be spending a week with my family in an amazing place. I've got three books I want to read, tons of time watching my girls enjoy life and drinking smoothies.

I don't want to get caught up feeling sorry for myself. Being in Thailand is amazing enough. Getting to be there on vacation with my family is all I need. I'll let you know how it goes!


Sunday, March 11, 2007


this weekend we are on a retreat with about 20 of our youth. it's been very humbling to see how God is stirring in their hearts as we walk through different experiences.
hannah led our session last night bringing some of the pieces together before we finish this morning and she did an incredible job. she had us use our 5 senses to see God revealed in and around us. God felt so present in those quiet moments (not that He isn't present all the time).
the first pic of brett keeps rotating, can't seem to fix it this morning; still a great pic of how we've pursued God this weekend.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

OK GO Treadmill Dance

These guys are amazing!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Take a hike

There are few places in the world I would rather be than Fontana Dam at Smoky Mountain National Park. That area of the park has always been a favorite of mine for its subtle beauty.

The ultimate test of falling in love for me was the great outdoors. In reality if Melissa had hated being outside, the blindness of love would've gotten me through. One long day proved she was a keeper.

I didn't know then that Melissa is prone to car sickness. I can only imagine how she must've felt after a 2 1/2 hour drive through the craziest roads I know of in the south. It's a beautiful journey from Toccoa to Fontana but it is not straight at all. It didn't seem to matter to her, she kept pressing on.

There was definitely some early tension, awkward quietness and vague questions that come with trying to get a feel for the day and how it might go. Nate and Andrea were with us and helped keep the conversation moving. Still, I have to think that Melissa and I were both pretty nervous. My taking her hiking was a big step in my mind and I think that showed.

I was head over heels for her already. After the evening at the coffee shop I was hers even with the Michael Jackson character flaw. When she readily agreed to come on a walk in the woods with me I was stoked.

Shortly after we started hiking it was pretty clear we weren't going to make the final destination. We took a detour, ended up having dinner along the trail and walking back in the dark. Watching Melissa take everything in, looking around, enjoying not only the beauty around us but the times of silence, the pace, and the great freeze dried pasta was surreal. I remember looking at her in those moments and seeing someone that was so much more than she tried to let on. She was a thinker for sure and she asked questions, good, hard, confusing, fun questions.

We came back down, readying ourselves for the smelly drive home (I hike, I sweat, I smell, it's inevitable) and paused to star gaze at the dam. I'm not sure how long we looked up; it felt like Hiro Nakamura had stopped time for us :) and gave us the chance to let down and talk. Who knows what all we talked about, that detail hasn't stuck with me. What stays with me is that we were together. There was a moment that night where it finally occurred to me that we would be walking the same path together for a long time.

She's proven time and again to be the toughest hiker I know, able to go one more step no matter what. That particular Saturday wasn't about the hiking, that day was about us, together. It was that day that I looked into her eyes and knew I could spend the rest of my life with her.

We've been climbing ever since.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Michael Jackson

A lot transpired between our first meeting and what I consider our "first" date. There is some debate over what our actual first date really was, but the evening I'm referring to here was the first time we did something together by ourselves.

We went out for coffee at the world famous coffee shop in Toccoa; world famous only becuase we live in Hong Kong now and still speak of it, thus making it world famous. We had a good time talking, getting to know each other, listening to our stories, all the normal begginings that make romance both fun and stressful.

What I remember most fondly about this experience is the drive afterward. As we were travelling, I noticed she had some tapes in the car (yeah you could still find tapes in 1999). And much to my surprise and dismay, I found a copy of a Michael Jackson tape right there in her car. That's right, Michael Jackson. I think the tape in question was 'Bad', no doubt a fan favorite but certainly not something I'd expect in the car of the object of my affections.

She looked at me with the eyes that screamed, "I've got a Michael Jackson tape in my car and if you've got a problem with that then tough!" and with much grace allowed me to mercilessly mock her for years to come.

I don't care at all about her poor taste in music, but I loved the fact that she was her own person. I loved that she didn't care whether I liked her crappy music or not, it was hers and that's that. I loved the fact that she could laugh about it.

Looking back on that evening brings an obvious sense of fulfilment to my heart. She's time and again proven to be the most amazing woman I've ever met. As we listened to Michael Jackson that night I fell in love with a girl that could laugh at herself and have fun being her. I grow more hopelessly in love with that girl every day.

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