Friday, August 28, 2009

what's that in your hand?

God is moving in our hearts. Our new church family is doing a series called "On Location" and to be honest, it is rocking our world. Sunday, there was a portion from Exodus where Moses was fraught with fear, asking "What if they do not listen, or believe...? What if they say the Lord is not....? " and in God's mercy, He asks Moses what is in his hand? Obviously, it was his staff. God asks Moses to lay down his staff. For Moses, that staff was who he was, what he did, and how he influenced. Easier said than done. For sure. For us. For you too. Sound familiar? When he laid it down, all that he had known became a snake...and Moses ran. God says, reach out your hand...pick up the snake, take it by the tail...and in an instant, that snake was his staff again, but here is why -- THAT THEY MAY BELIEVE...


"Matt, what is that in your hand?" It's a comfortable life in Auburn, doing college ministry, near our family, loving our church, leading on the campus... all things familiar. "Lay it down." When I think back to what we have laid down, and see what is slithering on the ground, the feelings of isolation, cultural adjustment, and the fear-based questions like, "What if they do believe me or listen to me or say the Lord did not appear to you?" come rushing in... and in the moments we are tempted to run, God has been so, so gracious to remind us to wait on Him.

What would be better? To walk around carrying the "staff" of what what we knew, what we used to have, or how we used to influence people... or would it be better to lay it all down, consider our loss as gain, and wait on our King to exalt our gifts, talents, and abilities in such a way, that unmistakably -- THEY MAY BELIEVE.

I hope this is making sense.

We are on the front end (again) of surrender. We have been asked to move our lives here. We are now in the process of waiting on Him. There are moments where we want to run away from what looks like the snake on the ground, but God continues to remind us though His word -- Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord... Be still, and know that He is God.. AND HE WILL BE exalted among the nations and on the earth.

What great promises! Far better that He recreate what life, ministry, and genuine love for people in Hong Kong looks like through our lives -- that many, many, many, many, many, many people, would know the grace and glory of our God. Please pray with us towards that end. Why else be here? What else truly captivates eternity in the hearts of men?

Yesterday, we were in a vision meeting for Passion here in Hong Kong. Once again, I was humbled to be in the room with local men and women whose hearts beat for Jesus. Our team was encouraged greatly. In my heart, I got a snapshot of what could be, what should be, and in God's time -- I'm praying what will be. If the vision of why we are really here is a polaroid... then something became a little clearer.

In the meantime, strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord. It is worth knowing, that in most instances after Moses laid it down, the staff is no longer referred to as Moses' staff, but as the staff of God. It is a demonstration of the difference between the ability of man and the power of God.

now to...

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

thousand island + seafood + corn = pizza ?

I can't say I ever really enjoyed Pizza Hut while living in America. Deep pan... just not my thing. At least not there. Maybe in Chicago, but Pizza Hut. Let's be honest. Mediocre at very best. Here in HK, mediocrity goes out the window. Welcome creativity. Like pizza titles including phrases such as Bollywood, Tokyo Temptation, Thousand Island + Crab Sticks, Seafood Rings + Cuttlefish, etc... you get the point. Corn can appear at random and without notice on any pizza on the menu. Also worth mentioning: A great attempt at ambiance near the tables, by including things like this: Corona Lite, Whole Grain Mustard, and yes, Heinz Apple Cider Vinegar. I must say, the service was excellent.

For those who are following our journey more closely, here is what we are learning:

Thankfulness is a choice. Being grateful is a willful decision to acknowledge all the good things God has done, is doing, and has given us. (you too!). We are living in Romans 15:13 and Psalm 92:1-8. Speaking His faithfulness to one another has been life-giving and joy-restoring. As much fun as it is to write randomly about Pizza Hut, truth be told, some days are hard and others are easy -- but this we know, our only choice is to press in, trusting Him with all everything. So, we are. Thanks for praying for us in these days of acclimating to life here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

kinda like kroger, but different.

While running some errands today, we stumbled upon our neighborhood wet market. Unfamiliar with the concept? Think indoor flea market + butcher + farmers market + tiny random restaurants under one roof. And, yes, the floor is wet. Bustling with local activity, there is another world down there.

We watched a live chicken be selected, weighed, and well, let's just say no more "cluck-cluck" was heard. And now I know how feathers are quickly removed. The Chic-Fil-A cows would be pleased. April and I were laughing because Caleb was enamored with all the live seafood and at the same time (see picture) was very much not liking the smells.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

what I call week #2 in review -

Here are some of the light-hearted moments from the week:

1. We took the boys swimming and broke HK protocol on a couple levels --- first we didn't have tickets ($1.25 USD) to swim, and we confused the lifegaurd by coming to the pool with only 27 minutes remaining in the first swim session of the day. Just wait...

2. Two days later, April "accidentally" uses the mens' restroom... and guess who is in there? The same lifeguard we semi-offended 48 hours ago.

3. We saw two really interesting things while on a dinner date / stock the refrigerator adventure: a fully outfitted Toyota Landcuiser with mud-tires, elevated exhaust, and every conceivable off-road accessory. It looked like an old-row guy from Auburn got car-jacked and his car ended up on some obscure black market. Maybe not. Part two of the same day... a rather stylish Hong Kong cowboy, complete with wranglers, hat, boots, and a massive belt buckle... for the record, most beef is imported here and does it help that this guy was walking around one of the largest malls in Hong Kong? If only Longhorn Steakhouse were here...

Here are some things we are thankful for:

1. The telecommunication industry -- Yes, we do live on the other side of the world from the people most dear to us, but we have no difficulty talking. The biggest challenge? 13 hours time difference, but that is do-able. Thank you Skype and 3 Com.

2. We love where we live. The people. The neighborhood. The nearby waterfront part. Our flat. The small grocery store filled with some pretty incredible things we've never seen, and missing a lot of things we are used to seeing. Again, thank you to all of our financial partners. We are so grateful for you.

3. In the rush to get things packed, even though we spent 6 months preparing, I really began to develop a love/hate relationship with the boxes / furniture we kept. Love/hate no more. Only love. And in 5 days it arrives. Love. Love. Love.

Here are some things we keep praying for:

1. We recognize that only Jesus can redeem people from their sin and selves. So, more than anything, we want to keep our relationship with Him as most important. We are here to love people, but the outcome of loving others is an accomplishment of the power of God at work in and through us. If it this depends on us -- then we have made it about us, but if we depend on God -- then the glory belongs to the rightful Owner.

2. Eyes to see / ears to hear. The other day, I was sitting at Starbucks trying to wrap my brain around all that was going on in my heart... I felt God impress on my heart, "Look up"... and so, I did. No sooner than I did, and a young women sitting across from me asked, "Is that a Bible?" ... and then we talked for about 20 minutes. I almost didn't look up...

3. Wisdom and unity as more of the team members arrive in HK over the next several weeks.

little man - luke.

Friday, August 14, 2009

take a walk.

Tonight we went for a walk before dinner. The boys loved it. There is a new playground about five minutes from where we live, and every night (weather permitting) we see so many families with young children along the waterfront.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ten things I am thinking about:

1. Throughout the Bible, God used men who were aware of their inabilities and needed to be reminded," Do not fear for I am with you."

2. At the end of the day, my three sons (at least that's how many children we currently have) are the most important time-investment I can make in God's kingdom. They will be our legacy... way more than anything else we do on this earth.

3. We take a lot of things for granted, like furniture or a refrigerator. Turns out, you can live without them. It may not be practical or convenient, but I have realized how much I truly have... and we're still living out of suitcases.

4. People handle cross-cultural transition differently... and that is OK.

5. There is no encouragement like that of my wife. She is amazing. I have loved seeing what God is doing in her heart these days. This still is a very odd thought to both of us: We LIVE in Hong Kong. We are most definitely the outsiders here, in our neighborhood, grocery store, streets. It is rare for us to see another Westerner where we live... and that's great.

6. Time together is critical. For us. For our children. For our team. For our calling. For our relationships.

7. Our parents really, really, really love us... and we love them. We miss you!

8. We miss our Auburn friends and church family.

9. We are here because of the generosity, sacrifice, and obedience of others. We are in this gospel partnership together.

10. Yes Lord, walking in the way of your truth, we wait for You, for your name and your renown are the desire of our souls... Declare His glory among the nations... He will establish the work of your hands... Apart from ME you can do nothing... Therefore Go!... In Him we live and move and have our being... A new and living way... The way, truth, and life... You were dead; now you are alive in Christ... For it is by grace... no man can boast... make every effort towards unity... Be prepared... They will know by your love...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

starbucks is fun, but...

Jetlag lesson #42: Do not assume the stores are open, even if the shopping center is. We pretty much were stuck here for a while after getting up way, way early. We did agree however, that it was pretty nice to sit on furniture. When our furniture does arrive... wow, we might just sit on the couch all day.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

the week in review - guest blog post from HK.

Tonight, April has compiled a list of first impressions from our new home here in HK. Enjoy.

Anchovy flavored quaker oatmeal.

From our 7th floor window - sailboats, skiing, fishing boats, airplanes, trains, buses, cabs, running, cycling, dog walking, family strolling, and early morning tai chi.

A six-pack of... bread.

Smells, smells, and more smells.

Chipped bowls and exposed ceiling in our new favorite Thai restaurant.

George, Edward, and Alfie (some really great NZ boys the same age as our children). Really enjoyed meeting this family.

Eva from Indonesia chasing our boys around the indoor gymnasium.

Long hair as an accessory from skin moles?

The teenage girls in the next flat beside us.

The socially acceptable (and inhalable) belch courtesy of our friendly cabbies.

Our friendly security guards who love the boys and smile every time we walk in.

Grandpa "A" who held Luke and led Josh to the nearby water fountain.

Umbrella hats.

Bike rider with a dog in the seat behind him.

"Waste no part of the Chicken" Dishes.

Butchered fish with the hearts still beating in the display case.

Another neighbors underwear right outside Luke's room window.


Remote control toddler car -- with child inside.

"Did you bring your own bag?"

4oz of syrup for Caleb's pancakes? $6 USD.

Our friendly (very Chinese) neighborhood grocery store that sells coffee, but no coffee filters.

Fish Jello.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands. Psalm 90:14,17