Today, I was given the opportunity to sit in front of very talented people operating really nice equipment and share the story of "why hong kong?". I have a new appreciation for anyone who does this regularly.
From the sheer amount of precision and craft that goes into the right lighting, angle, tones, etc... wow. It's a different world. It was great to see like-minded believers hard at work at a craft I know very little about.
When I did begin to share about "why hong kong?" there was a lump in my throat at one point; the familiar feeling of tears in my eyes, subtly reminding me that this burden I've known for almost two years now... is real and God-given.
Take 1. Take 2. Take 3... or 4... or 5. I lost count at one point. It happens. Right?
Driving home, my iphone battery died. I wanted to talk with April and tell her how incredibly unnatural it is to speak into a camera in a solid blue room wearing light make-up with a few people staring at your every move, and listening to your every word. Maybe I could get used to doing that...maybe not. I would feel more comfortable in front of 5000 people than 1 camera lens.
What could have been highway-induced boredom, turned into a great silence where I heard the still small Voice reminding me of priceless truth I needed to hear...like this: grace means I belong to God. After all my talking today about how grace changes lives, I needed to hear again, that grace has changed mine.
The Gospel was good news for me today. To the generous friend who made today happen, many thanks for your commitment to make the name of Jesus famous in all you do.
We went camping this weekend with April's family. It was rewarding to see all the little cousins playing together. Did I mention we saw a bald eagle, deer, coyotes, and beavers. No, we were not camping in a zoo.
Here's a brief rundown.
4:00 pmSet up camp.
8:00 pmSmores / Crazy story time with April & the little ones.
9:00 pmBedtime for the kids.
2:00 am April asks me, "what time is it? I haven't slept yet?"
3:00 am Caleb wakes up crying / frozen in the tent next door.
3:30 am Inconvenience of having-a-bladder-syndrome.
3:37 am Josh wakes up crying / frozen in the tent next door.
3:39 am April, Josh, Caleb, & myself are all awake, cold.
5:00 am April and I give up on sleeping. The boys are now asleep. We go outside to join her dad & niece (also awake and cold) by the fire. We see an amazing sunrise a couple hours later.
So, here's the thing. This might be the lamest blog posting ever, if it were really about a car, but it's not. It's really about just one more step on our journey of saying yes to God.
As the months pass by every new layer of reality settles on us as we prepare to move to HK. The most recent reality? We are now a one-car family. I sold my car today. Asking price. Cash. Hmm. It's probably gonna to be a pretty long time until I have another car for my primary use.
I can remember cutting the grass for the last time, thinking not about the lawnmower, but about the time spent with my children on it. Again, it's probably gonna be a long time before we have a yard to maintain again.
Same thing today, driving to Montgomery, I knew for some reason, it would be the last time I drove "my" car for a long time. Driving to meet the potential buyer, I starting thinking of random memories with this car.
Among many, here's a favorite: April using the 4WD in reverse in to pull me/josh/caleb out of knee deep mud on the 4-wheeler. She can drive. Seriously.
I read this book yesterday. Buy it. I have read about grace, taught about grace, thought about grace, and if grace ever ceases to bring wonder to my heart, then i don't really understand grace at all. This was a fresh word and great reminder of how the grace of God triumphs over our failures and our goodness. I was challenged to see the older brother and younger brother in me, and wanting neither to be the way I live in faithfulness to Jesus.
I found out a few moments ago, that Grace Campus received a large gift for HK tonight. Again, I am in awe. Just when I am tempted to dream less, or wonder how - He shows up.
Here's how this happened. A couple weeks ago, I'm at our office meeting with a student who is praying about joining us in Hong Kong after he graduates. Friends that April and I have not seen in YEARS just randomly stop by the office after seeing the sign outside. They were just driving through Auburn and decided to stop by. They were a part of the early days, some of our first efforts in discipleship.
They had no idea we were headed to Hong Kong. I had no idea they were stopping by. God knew. After sharing the story of why good-bye Auburn and hello-Hong Kong, they expressed their interest inpartnering with us. They initiated. They offered. I simply shared the story of what God has done in our hearts and the vision we have to see hearts awaken.
I don't know what to do in these situations, other than choose humility, be authentic, and keep my expectations on God and not people. And then. God amazes me. Again. Since December, I have seen Him provide for our family and for this ministry in the most interesting ways, from people having dreams, to "unplanned" meetings, to $20,000 that made me cry in the post office parking lot, a pastor compelled to take another offering, friends and family giving sacrificially, long-time supporters continuing their partnership, and the list goes on... and I'm certain, the list will grow as the God-of-how provides for our mission to amplify the name of Jesus on the other side of earth.
For those of you who partner with us in prayer and finances, it is an honor to be in such fellowship with you.
Embracing the simple concept, "every child has a right to clean water," the Washington State-based non-profit organization A Child's Right is about to make an enormous announcement: it has received approval and funding for outfitting every single orphanage in China with clean water filtration units.
"This means, simply, that every institutionalized orphan in China will have clean and safe drinking water," explains Eric Stowe, the NGO's Director. The scope of the work will cover all of China's 31 provinces and municipalities.
Rev. Jin Mingri peered out from the pulpit and delivered an unusual appeal: "Please leave," the 39-year-old pastor commanded his followers, who were packed, standing-room-only on a Sunday afternoon, into a converted office space in China's capital. "We don't have enough seats for the others who want to come, so, please, only stay for one service a day."
A choir in hot-pink robes stood to his left, beside a guitarist and a drum set bristling with cymbals. Children in a playroom beside the sanctuary punctuated the service with squeals and tantrums. It was a busy day at a church that, on paper, does not exist.
Christianity — repressed, marginalized and, in many cases, illegal in China for more than half a century — is sweeping the country, overflowing churches and posing a sensitive challenge to the officially atheist Communist Party.
Today was a good day. For sure. The time with our staff team this morning was genuine and meaningful. We finished up a book we had been reading together since August. From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya tells the history of Christian missions and movements beginning in the earliest days of the Church.
Conclusion? God uses broken people and Grace always wins.
Knowing I was driving to Anderson, SC tonight I took the afternoon off. We went to a park, had lunch, swim lessons, worked out, grilled out, took a walk as a family, and now we are calling it a day. I felt like this afternoon was straight out of a too-good-to-be-true family sit-com, but it wasn't. It was real.
Not to mention, April was singing some of the 90's greatest hits during our moonlit trip around the neighborhood. So, there you have it. A day in the life.
Dinner was a lot of fun tonight. You are not likely to remember this, but just you and I went out for a special dinner. I am so honored to be your dad. You have changed my life. I genuinely enjoy your company. Playing sugar packet football on the table, and waiting for our dumplings to arrive was hilarious. Not to mention, this was the "first" time you got to make your own pancake with chicken. Pretty cool huh? The chopstick lessons are going great and soon enough my little friend, you'll have that down too. Today was one of those days where I have been constantly reminded of how I need God, so thanks for being quick to pray with me this afternoon while we were taking care of Luke. Tonight at dinner, you told me I was a great dad, and believe it or not - that meant the world to me. Psalm 127:3 says "Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him." No doubt, this is true!
PS -- don't be jealous, but you are asleep, and Caleb snuck downstairs and is up later than you. We just took random pictures on photobooth. See?
Yes, this movie released a while ago. Yes, I do like movies. Yes, I was semi-surprised by the plot. No, I'm not a sci-fi fan. But what I did love about this movie was its unique picture of grace. Widower turned father: Unlikely father. Unloved child. Pretty clear picture of what love looks like. Turns out its based on a true story. And that true story, is based on another true Story.