Saturday, February 28, 2009

maybe how the west was won, maybe.

i was at a rehearsal dinner lastnight for some friends getting married. I'm really happy for them, and was thankful to have been a part of their wedding weekend. truth be told, I've lost track of how many rehearsal dinners I've been to at this point, and that doesn't really matter. For the most part, those evenings are the same. Meaningful. Sometimes awkward. Usually funny.

I have to say, tonight I was reminded again about the importance of a father's blessing. I myself I have received such grace from my own dad. It was really great to hear another son receive his fathers blessing. Not everyone does or has the opportunity to. So, I figured while I can, for as long as I can, that's the goal I'm aiming for with my sons.

April and the boys couldn't make it tonight, so on the way home I ran into wal-mart and picked up a little toy for the boys. No, they didn't need another toy, but I did want another opportunity to look them in the eyes, and tell them they are special to me. So, I got them a cowboy-kit, complete with guns, knives, handcuffs, spurs, and a canteen.

What's funny is that after i got back and we had our little father / son / cowboy moment, I jokingly said, "hey, guess where this was made?" -- Josh, 1 second later -- "let me guess... China?"

Yep. The wild west, made in the east. Makes sense. 

Thursday, February 26, 2009

interesting news

Beijing in secret talks with banned Protestant Church (January 26, 2009, Times Online)

A secret meeting between Chinese officials and leaders of the banned underground Protestant Church has marked the first significant step towards reconciliation in decades. The discussions, which were held in an office in Beijing, were the first time that members of the Government and stalwarts of the outlawed "house churches" had sat down as negotiators rather than foes, The Times has learnt. Pastor Ezra Jin, who started the Zion Church about two years ago, said that he felt the invitation had been inevitable. "The Government has a more open attitude towards religion so when they asked me to come I didn't need them to explain why," he said. Church leaders said that the Government - including the police, who have raided and crushed underground churches for years - had realised that the time for confrontation had passed. Father Jin told The Times: "The Government is anxious to work out the way to go forward. They have understood that the Protestant Church is not an opposition force but a force for stability and harmony." He added that the Government wanted to discuss the position of house churches and to evaluate whether they posed a threat to the regime. They also wanted to know why the house churches could not accept the leadership of the official body. Even more surprisingly they appeared to want advice. "They wanted to know our requirements when it comes to setting future policy," Pastor Jin said, without elaborating. In a report on the meeting another house church pastor wrote that one of the main topics was the difficulty of keeping the unofficial Church under the Government's heel. Pastors say that raids, fines and even punishments such as re-education through labour are no longer effective; if one church is broken up new ones are started. A senior economist, who openly declares his faith, said: "The closer understanding may have come in meetings between jailed
pastors and the police, and those changes in attitude meant this day could come," he said.

ZGBriefs is a condensation of news items gathered from published sources.  ZGBriefs is not responsible for the content of these items nor does it necessarily endorse the perspectives presented. 

Monday, February 23, 2009

the suitcase bike.

The suitcase bike. 

To be honest I'm not sure what the capacity is of this work of art. It appears to be more bike, than suitcase. Which makes sense I guess if you need a bike more than a suitcase. Either way, it makes a great point about people. We all have baggage. We all try to deal with it. 

Sometimes, it looks kinda cool, like a suitcase bike. Other times, not so much. Sometimes, it looks like a girl cutting her arms and abusing over the counter drugs. I don't get that, but her pain is real, and deceivingly managed through lacerations and loss of lucidity. It's heartbreaking and its happening. I don't know your name. I'm pretty sure you will never read this blog -- but if you do, know that a lot of people love you and are praying for you from this weekend. 

Jesus says that if we have burdens, are weary, or heavy laden -- to come to Him (even perhaps while riding the suitcase bike) and He will give us rest. 2 Cor 5 says that God is reconciling the world to Himself through Christ-followers. One thing I reflected on during this weekend retreat -- is that God makes his appeal to others through our response in pain, trust in circumstances, and dependence on Him to meet our needs. 

When we trust Him to heal, provide, come through, and be true -- we experience His faithfulness and others see faith genuinely lived out. I got on my knees several times this weekend, including once in front of about 400 jr high / sr high students. They God on their knees too. Picture that. 

Together, with outstretched hands we faced the two most common lies that haunt humanity: God doesn't love me and I can live without God. 

When we believe God does not love us, we look for significance instead of Him. When we believe we can live without God, we look for satisfaction outside of Him. Do the math. It's true. To hear that many people unload burdens through prayer and with tears... well, words fall short. What I do know is that God loves perfectly; He is truly trustworthy; I can't live without Him and He really does satisfy. 

Friday, February 20, 2009

hello, my new name is...

cared for. 
provided for. 
 pursued one.
 rescued one. 
 fearfully made.
created for glory.
 citizen of heaven. 
forever forgiven. 
made whole. 
destined with eternal purpose.
beloved one. 
bought at a price.
hidden in Christ.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

hello, my name is.

This weekend, we'll be at Sharp Top Cove with a group of people known to some as the "crazy ones". Not a bad way to spend time with friends, tucked away in one of the great retreat areas in America. I'm excited about what we'll be speaking on, the whole idea of re-identifying who we are, based on who He is. So much of the redemption we have in Christ, is seeing the beauty of re-creation. No doubt, what God originally created was "good", but what is best is when the created ones embrace their need for re-creation. 2 Cor 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come." Hello, my name is: Redeemed. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Hello. It IS good to see you again.

The other day, i did something i have not done in a while. I read the gospel. This might not make sense to many people, but I'm thinking it will land on a few. With the incessant inflow of new ideas, new books, new information sources, social networking, fascinating tv shows, etc. --- it is very easy, to look everywhere else, but Him. 

Me + John (as in the gospel of John) + time alone = focus on Jesus. 

Crazy isn't it? I read a lot of books about Jesus, thought a lot about ways to influence the kingdom of Jesus, talked a lot about Jesus with others -- but it would do us all a lot of good, to set aside good things, really great things, and re-approach our Redeemer in Scripture, remembering what Jesus said, did, and how God-with-skin-and-dirty-feet interacted with real people who were never the same after Him.  

I'm not splitting hairs here -- just confessing I am easily distracted often times by good things, that still leave me longing for the Great One. This is not to say, I am not in a growing relationship with the Lord either, because I am. More so, I think that some of us (myself included) assume we have read it before, or presume we don't need to read it again. 

Yikes. Wrong. We do. It's like going through a old photo album, remembering all the things that seem vaguely familiar. It restores clarity, sharpens the reality, and stirs wonder in our hearts again for Him.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

born into brothels

Last night, we saw the documentary film Born into Brothels about children in Calcutta, India who are born into the sex-trade industry. For anyone interested in learning more about situations like this -- I'd recommend the film. Think Invisible Children meets India's prostitution, take out the child soldiers and put in these kids living in the midst of humanity gone wrong. It's a few years old, but still, very much eye-opening. For more information about this look at kids with cameras.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

wild goose chase

I can really appreciate any book that genuinely affects change in my life. Therefore, I'm a fan of this book. It has challenged me to re-think what matters, and to "reclaim the adventure of pursuing God." I am thinking more about responsibilities, routine, assumptions, guilt, failure and fear -- and He is meeting me there in all of those things. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

adoption reminder

CCAA Status: 
Reviewed through: March 31, 2007   
Placed through: March 2, 2006

Tonight as I was putting the boys to bed, Josh and Caleb both prayed for their sister -- it is really sweet to hear them love this little girl they have never met. No doubt, there is an indescribable love for her in April and me. It's real for the little guys too.  There are days where the wait seems like FOREVER, but then again, we have no other option but to trust Him for the timing. Above, are the latest status updates from the CCAA, China's Adoption Agency. Our date for log-in is April 15, 2007. We're getting close to being reviewed! That's pretty funny, because we have moved, had another child, and are moving to Hong Kong. Just a couple things have changed. Good thing for home-study updates - So, maybe year from now, Anna Grace's brothers will be tucking her in. 

Sunday, February 08, 2009

say yes - montgomery

This post will be brief, but i wanted to say out loud: Thank you Christ Community Church for being one of the most sincere group of people I know. From the very beginning of Grace Campus, you have been welcoming, encouraging, and supportive of what we have been a part of. You have set the bar and are great example of how to be a gracious church family, committed to what really matters, and open to what God is doing. It was an honor to be there today and worship with you. To know there is a HK flag hanging there, and that we will be in your prayers means so much. Keith, thanks for your leadership today, your willingness to say "yes" and how that is significantly helping us get to HK this summer. Thank you.

Friday, February 06, 2009

tweet tweet

so, i hear it is twitter time. here goes. 

Sunday, February 01, 2009


I have been sitting in our chair in the corner, a place where April and I both tend to sit and read. This afternoon, I was spending time in prayer, considering, confessing, dreaming, and trying to make sense of what life has for us these days. The biggest thing I can say, is that a cloud has lifted. For whatever reason, walking away from encounter for the sake of what is next in Hong Kong has impacted me personally more than I realized.

I have experienced a sense of disconnect from most things, people, and even God. Most conversations feel very shallow and surface level, which is so exhausting. But today, at our church, God moved in my heart and something is different. There is a sense of direction in my own devotional life I have not known for a while. There are some dreams deep inside that are resurfacing. There are questions I used to ask, that I am starting to ask again. The bottom line, is that I have returned to the Lord. Again, He has rescued me from me. 

He never left, but my eyes looked away. He never changed, but my circumstances and work responsibilities have. He never withheld His love for me, but burdened with the what-ifs and unknowns, my heart’s affections for Him faded. 

In an honest confession, my passion for Jesus has been hi-jacked by questions without answers and circumstances out of my control. Rather than believe Him to lead me (Isa 42) along paths I have not known, I had resigned to my own sense of loss and relied upon my own (very limited) abilities.

No more. All sin leads to death. Unbelief is sin. Trusting in my own ability is sin. Not loving the Lord, my God, with ALL MY HEART, SOUL, MIND, and STRENGTH is sin. More than anything I want to know Him. I have been believing God for some things, but not everything. Loving God with some, part, or most of me is different than ALL of me.

“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:13. Self-reliance and self-sustenance leads to death. 

I cannot live (and experience LIFE) without Him. Neither can you. So, in my returning to the Lord today, I simply began to share my need for Him, share my affections for Him, and intentionally say, “Father, I am here – and You can have all of me – and I love You – and I need You.”

I’m writing in my journal, when Josh quietly walks down the stairs, put his head on my knee, and says, “Dad, I just wanted to come down here and tell you that I love you.” That's all it took. A divine appointment. In the flash of a moment, I received from him, there very same joy the Father knows from me, when I simply say – Father I Love You. My son's genuine desire to sit near me is a mirrored imaged of my desire to be with Him. What father rejects the sincere affections of his son? Children are a reward from Him. Psalm 127:3b

Words fall short, but I know what is happening here. It is nothing less than seeing dimly in a mirror, what will be crystal clear for eternity. Grace is at work in our home today. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. I Corinthians 13:12