Peace on earth: If you’re complaining about red cups, you’re doing it wrong

As the holiday season comes into full swing here in the U.S., there’s one sign to many that acts as a “green light” to starting their holiday to-do lists: The beloved Starbucks red cup. For years, the Seattle-based coffee chain has issued the seasonal red cup with unique designs featuring holiday icons such as ribbons or vintage ornaments.

Photo credit: Starbucks.com

Photo credit: Starbucks.com

This year, however, the company decided to go a different route; the 2015 red cups have a minimalist look showing a solid gradient flowing from bright red to a darker cranberry red as the backdrop to their internationally-recognized green logo.

My first introduction to the new look was in an article I read the first week of November. Many people in the design community were disappointed at the minimalist design, saying it lacked creativity and quality. Many of the designs in years past have been quite intricate and eye-catching.

Then things really took off. by the weekend, social media was buzzing about the criticism Starbucks was receiving from Christians saying that their new cups were taking Christmas away.

Popular vlogger Joshua Feuerstein posted a video with the caption “Starbucks REMOVED CHRISTMAS from their cups because they hate Jesus…” In that video, he claims the red cups have no signs of Christmas or Christ on their cups, so he “tricked” them into writing Merry Christmas on his cup after they asked what his name is.

Feuerstein encouraged Christians everywhere to do the same, and to begin using the hashtag #MerryChristmasStarbucks to show their disdain for Starbucks’ un-Christ-like agenda.

First of all, Christians for years have been complaining about Christ being taken out of Christmas in the business and retail worlds. Every time a restaurant chain says “Happy Holidays”, for instance, the “Christian” culture goes nuts and vows to ban the chain. I’m surprised they haven’t attacked Starbucks for using images of reindeer on their cups instead of images of the Nativity scene.

I heard on the radio that some news stories were even saying that Christians were feeling “persecuted” because of the red cups — in a time when Christians in other countries are being run out of their homeland or even beheaded for standing up for their beliefs.

In a news release by Starbucks dated November 8, 2015, Starbucks Vice President of Design & Content Jeffrey Fields re-stated what I had read days before the red cup mayhem began. “In the past, we have told stories with our holiday cups designs,” said Fields. “This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories. Starbucks has become a place of sanctuary during the holidays. We’re embracing the simplicity and the quietness of it. It’s more open way to usher in the holiday.”

Essentially, Fields is saying that in all of the busyness and chaos of the holidays, they recognize the peace and calm that can be found in the coffee shop. They are marketing the fact that in the middle of your gift shopping you can stop, take a breath and regather your thoughts over a cup of joe.

Now, whether you agree with this or not (I’ve experienced that coffee shops can be quite crowded during the holidays), you have to recognize the irony in this. Christians everywhere are declaring war on Starbucks; all the while, the company is simply recognizing that we need more peace in the season.

Here is my challenge to all believers: If you’re complaining about the infamous red cup, you’re doing it wrong. If “Happy Holidays” irks you to no end, or if seeing Santa Claus instead of baby Jesus infuriates you, just stop. Take a minute and grab a coffee. Sit down and read the true story of Christmas.

The truth of the matter is that we shouldn’t be looking for Jesus on our coffee cups. The prophet Isaiah said long before Christ was born that His name would be Immanuel, meaning “God is with us.”

If you claim to be a Christian, remember this one thing: God is with you. Rather than attacking the barista, let God shine through you in the form of love. Instead of pushing people aside in the mad rush of Black Friday, go and help the needy instead.

Mr. Fields has given us believers in Christ an amazing invitation. He says that the purity of their red cup design is an invitation to share our own story. Let this be the year that you share the wonderful story of God’s redemption in your life through the birth of your Savior, Jesus.

 

Writer’s note: Instead of attacking Starbucks, I challenge Christians everywhere to use it as they intended it… share your story! Use #MyRedCupStory to share your testimony! Here’s my testimony below. See them all here!

What’s Your Flavor? — Living with integrity in a bitter world

I. HATE. COFFEE.

Yeah, I know — strange. Especially when you find out that I currently live in arguably the coffee capitol of the world, Kona Hawaii! But it’s true, I just can’t stand it.  There aren’t many of us in America, as far as I know. It seems everyone drinks it.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good mocha, frappuccino, or even a latte every now and then. I’m not too sure what the difference is between regular coffee and espresso, but you add enough syrup to the latter and you have a fine drink. But it doesn’t matter how much sugar or cream you add to coffee, it still gives a jaw-twisting aftertaste.

Tonight I walked down to the waterfront in downtown Kona to spend some time alone with God. On the way, I passed one of the many coffee shops, and a young girl offered me a free sample, which I politely denied (and hid the thought of disgust I harbored inside my mind).

Later, as I was sitting on a bench, God showed up. He gave me a hug, told me He loved me. I asked what it was He wanted to say to me tonight — you can imagine my thought when He told me to go back and try the free sample of coffee.

At first, I argued. “No, that can’t be God”, I said. “I’m here to listen to Him; going to get that will only distract me.” That age-old question popped into my head: Is this really God speaking, or is it just my own thoughts distracting me? Well, I wasn’t going to have any of that, not tonight. I’m tired of questioning if it’s really Him! The only way to know for sure is to obey, right?

So, I abruptly stood up, and stomped away from the beautiful scenery, and back toward the shop. I didn’t see any dispenser out by the door, so I almost gave a sigh of relief. “Hey, do you have any free samples left?”, I asked.

“Sure!”, another employee replied, “Would you like light, medium, dark, or flavored?”

“Medium — No, uh, flavored.”, I shot back. I thought if it had some flavor maybe it’ll cover some of the bitterness. I chose vanilla macadamia over chocolate macadamia. Who knows if that was a bad decision or not. After a few seconds, she handed me a shot-sized mug half-full of joe.

I tasted it, cringed inside, and downed the rest of it. I immediately regretted my decision, but pretended to like it as the nice employee explained that there are 200 coffee farms around Kona, and it’s important to try them all. I let her continue to go through her memorized monologue before politely thanking her — and lied, saying I would think about buying a bag. Well, I did think about it.

I sat down at a plastic table on the boardwalk and asked, “Okay God, what was that all about?” His answer brought a thin grin to my face.

“Travis, there are so many people in this world whose flavor never matches their label.”

Wow.

You see, just as flavored coffee never — I mean NEVER — tastes like advertised, there are many people who are the same. Many “Christians”. They flaunt a shiny, attractive “vanilla macadamia” label, but their lives don’t reflect the label. Many people claim to be Christian, and they may even talk the right language once a week or so — but their lives don’t match.

Now don’t get me wrong, I know no one is perfect. We all sin — me as much as anyone else! But there are too many people out there wearing a label just for label’s sake.

Psalm 119:1-3 reads, “Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord.  Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths.”

If you’re looking for more joy in your life, more joy in your marriage, more joy in your job, more joy in your family, more joy in your everything — then accept this decree: put on a label of integrity, and let all of those around you taste what they see.

Yeah, you’ll stumble now and then. But the more we strive for integrity in our lives, the more joyful we will become. With all of the “false advertising” in the world today, it’s easy to leave a bad taste in the mouths of those of the world. Let’s give them a fresh new taste.

The single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable. ~Brennan Manning

From the Pocket of God – How One Ministry Is Impacting a Small Community in Dominican Republic

Locals balancing on the Haina River pipeline by Batey Bienvenido before jumping in

Walk through the community of Batey Bienvenido and you will no-doubt be flooded with sounds – sounds of a vendor promoting from a megaphone his plantains, water bottles, or some other commodity for sale; the whine of a scooter as it bounces down a bumpy dirt road; loud music blasting from a discothèque on the corner; dogs barking; roosters crowing; babies crying; and a chorus of other noises. But the best sound you’ll hear – arguably anywhere – is the sound of children laughing.

In this small but crowded community that holds about 9,000 residents ¬– the majority being Haitian – outside Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, there is a good chance you will hear their laughter when you walk through the chain-link gate and into the front yard of Proyecto de Vida Dale de Comer – we’ll just call it the Feeding Center.

I had the opportunity to travel with an outreach team from the Sports DTS in July to Dominican Republic. We started out at the San Pedro base, working with their Homes of Hope team and a team from Justice Water to build a home and latrine for one family. Then our team moved into the Feeding Center with Justice Water to build a water tank for this ministry. While we were there, I had the chance to sit down with Pastora Veronica Ramos and hear a bit more about what they do.

Pastora Veronica preparing rice for the children

Pastora Veronica started the center in 2008 after being involved in a medical clinic in the neighborhood. 70% of the patients that visited that clinic were children below the age of 16.

The youngest of them – those aged 5 or younger – hadn’t had anything to eat. The pediatricians in the clinic said the children were anemic and dehydrated.

One night after a full day at the clinic, Veronica had a particularly rough night of sleep. She woke up at three in the morning with her mind full of the faces of the children. She asked God what she should do about it, and God began repeating two words to her, “Feed them.”

“God must be crazy!” was her response. Mrs. Ramos had just recently moved to the area after her husband’s business had gone bankrupt. “How can I possibly feed all of these children?”

Shortly after that, a friend called her up and asked what was wrong. He had seen in a vision that she was discouraged. He said that God had told him to tell her, “What’s mine is mine – no need to worry.”

In December 2008, Veronica began by feeding 15 kids who showed up. Within two months, that number had quadrupled! For the first few months, she was receiving financial support, but that eventually stopped. However, somehow God continues to provide. “The money comes from the pocket of God,” she faithfully proclaims, “I keep praying, and He keeps sending.”

Now Pastora Veronica and her team of volunteers feed some 150 children from Batey Bienvenido. On a given day, there could be 80-100 kids inside that chain-link gate receiving a full plate of food – for the majority of them it may be their only meal for the day.

During the day, this spot along the Haina River is filled with young swimmers and bridge jumpers. But at night, it becomes a popular location for prostitution.

Unfortunately, for these children, malnutrition is only one of their worries. Not far from the neighborhood is a popular swimming spot along the very polluted Haina River. But once the sun goes down, this spot is a major hub for prostitution. The parents go down to the river at night, and leave the children at home to take care of themselves. Many mothers may have three to five children from different men. These parents many times abuse their kids – especially the girls. When girls reach the age of 8-12, their own moms send them out as prostitutes to support the family. There are two brothels in the neighborhood with very young girls.

After hearing this, one might guess that there aren’t any churches in the area. In fact, there are nine churches – but they are very strict, right down to the clothes you can wear. So many of their neighbors aren’t fit to attend. These same churches don’t see Pastora Veronica as a woman of God because of her appearance and her ‘come as you are’ mentality. In fact, she’s known as a pastor of the devil because they say she goes to the discothèque to dance. The truth is, she goes to find prostitutes and others to share the love of Jesus.

Because of the model of Christ that Mrs. Ramos is to this community, she’s able to speak truth and hope into the lives of any that come inside the gate. Each week, she holds church services for children, teens, and families. “Feeding them is like creating a honeycomb for bees,” Veronica said, “As they are fed, they also find a place to learn about Christ.”

Juan, one of the ministry's first kids, now volunteers. He helped us quite a bit on the new water catchment tank. Juan left shortly after to do his DTS.

And she loves to share testimonies of kids. One such story is that of Juan Ramirez. Juan was one of the very first kids that came to the Feeding Center. A Haitian with no I.D., he came from a very poor family living in a leaky home. Through his connection with Veronica, he and his mother began volunteering. Veronica was able to bless their family by having their home repaired. Now Juan has an I.D., a passport, has dreams of being a missionary, and just took his DTS in September!

Pastora Veronica says that the kids who come to the Feeding Center love to call her Mama. “If they’re sick, if they’re being abused, they tell me. They see this place like a refuge,” she said. But the dream God has given her for the project is much bigger than this. The public school can only occupy 350 students at a time. So the school holds two sessions – one in the morning, and one in the afternoon. There are 4,000 teens in the community, but no space in school. Private Christian schools are out of the question for these students because of the cost. Even the vocational training school for older teenagers and adults is too expensive for most.

So Veronica has the dream to take in students in the morning, serve them breakfast and help with their homework. Then they’ll eat lunch before they go to their afternoon school session. For students who go to school in the mornings, they’ll offer a similar schedule for after-school. Part of the dream is to also discourage prostitution by offering alternatives for women to make a living. All of this will require more land and facilities for the ministry. So Veronica and the other volunteers are praying for the Lord to send all they need.

Our team of 9 from the Kona Sports DTS standing in front of the tank we built

Our team – with the guidance of the Justice Water team – was able to build a beautiful water tank to offer fresh, clean drinking water to the children at the Feeding Center. But clearly, there is more work to be done. Let’s pray together that more missions teams and volunteers will come along to help Pastora Veronica and her devoted staff. Let’s help them fulfill their motto, “Comiendo, aprendiendo, y aprendiendo de la palabra de Dios,” which means, “Eating, learning, and learning from the word of God.”

Dreams of God

God speaks in many different ways — sometimes He speaks in a burning bush, sometimes in a still, small voice. But one thing is for certain, He loves to speak to us, His children. All we need to do is be willing to listen.

This week I was struggling to come up with a design for the poster and programs for a musical performance series here on the University of the Nations Kona campus called Dreams of God. I had talked to the woman in charge of the musical production, and we decided that we wanted the nations represented, as well as music in the design. But how?

I shared the struggle with my girlfriend as we were walking in downtown Kona one evening. She just began praying that God would help me develop this new design. As she was praying, God immediately downloaded an image of a hollow globe with a light shining from the inside, shooting light rays out in all directions! It also had a ribbon of musical notes woven all around the land masses.

Light of the World

This is the result after just a few hours sitting at my desk.

 

God does answer prayers. How has He answered a prayer for you recently? I’d love to hear about it! Feel free to leave a comment below.

Infinitely More!

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. ~Ephesians 3:20

Operation Olympic Quilt Project — How a handmade patriotic quilt is sending me to the nations!

I have the best mom in the world. She has always supported me 110%. As I entered full-time missions, it has been no different. Now, as I plan to go on outreach to the Dominican Republic and London, England this summer, my mom has launched something pretty radical. Below is her announcement on Facebook on what she is calling the Olympic Outreach Quilt Project. Read through and find out how you might receive a beautiful handmade quilt that she made herself. And oh, Happy Mother’s Day!

THE OLYMPIC OUTREACH QUILT PROJECT is a Facebook campaign over the next 35 days (May 7 – June10) to raise $6500 to finance the outreach expenses for Travis Peterson.

WILL YOU BE ONE OF THE 260?? Keep reading to find out how!!

If you know me, then you also know that my oldest son, Travis Peterson, serves with YWAM (Youth With a Mission). YWAM is the largest non-denominational mission organization in the world! Travis works at their main base in Kona, Hawaii, where he works in their communications department, helping others spread the gospel around the world!

This summer, Travis has the unique opportunity to help lead an outreach team. First they will travel to the Dominican Republic where they will help build a house for a needy family. Then they will travel to London, the site of the Summer Olympics, to join up with other YWAM teams from around the world. They will be converging on London to spread the gospel to the thousands of international visitors who will be there for the games.

This is not a vacation! They will not be there as tourists! They will be living in less than comfortable conditions during their stay (camping out for SIX WEEKS!). And for what?? Imagine, people of every nation, race, & ethnic background all gathered in one place for a few short weeks. And imagine, other people ministering the gospel to those who might never have the opportunity to hear it back in their native country! Imagine, those people finding Christ, and then going back to their homelands and sharing Christ with others!

What does this have to do with you?? In order for Travis to participate, he must raise $6500 for his travel expenses. All YWAM personnel receive absolutely NO salary, but instead rely on the financial support of others.

I’ve done the math. All it will require is 260 people giving just $25. That’s it — only $25!! Not $50, or $100 (although that would be wonderful if you feel led to do so!). Not monthly, but just ONE TIME! JUST $25!!!

So, I am turning the Facebook community for help! In order to ‘sweeten the pot’ — so to speak — I have made what I call an ‘Olympic Outreach’ quilt*. I am going to GIVE THIS QUILT away to some ‘lucky’ person as my way of saying “Thank You” for your help. In addition, Travis will be taking the quilt to London with him, and hopefully get a couple of photographs of it in front of the Olympic stadium or other Olympic venue. I’m hoping that he will also be able to get a London newspaper from opening day. So, THIS QUILT WILL LITERALLY HAVE BEEN IN LONDON DURING THE OLYMPICS, AND YOU’LL HAVE THE PICTURES TO PROVE IT!!!

A photo of the actual quilt that will be given away!

Here’s how it works. Simply make a $25 donation (through Travis’ website), and I will enter your name in a drawing for the quilt. (Give $50 = get two entries, give $100 = get 4 entries, etc.)

At the very least, you will have a 1 in 260 chance of winning the quilt. The more you give, the more chances you have to win. I will even offer special ‘BONUS ENTRIES’ over the course of the 35 days/5 weeks of this project.

Please understand, this IS NOT a contest, nor is it a raffle. There are no ‘rules’. You are making a donation to a charitable organization, and I – as a completely separate individual – am giving this quilt to another individual. Period. Your donation goes directly to YWAM, and you will receive a tax-donation receipt from them.

Once you make your donation, simply comment on my FB page (or message me if you prefer it to be private), and I will add your name to the drawing.

If you are one of Travis’ monthly supporter, THANK YOU so much for what you do!! I would never ask anyone to do more than what they are comfortable with, and I realize that many of you are doing all you can do financially to support Travis. BUT YOU CAN HELP!!

I want this to go viral!! Here’s what I need EVERYONE to do:

Please SHARE this, LIKE this, or whatever in order to spread this throughout the Facebook community, especially those who might be interested. Those include:

  • Church friends
  • Family & relations (even if you don’t like them!)
  • Camp Dixie people
  • Advent Christian denomination people
  • Wilmington Christian Academy people
  • YWAM people
  • Friends, friends of friends, friends of friends of friends, perfect strangers, imperfect strangers
  • People who are passionate about missions and spreading the gospel
  • People who are passionate about sports and might like to own something that has a connection to the Olympics
  • People who are passionate about our country and/or patriotic-themed items (red, white & blue, the flag, etc.)
  • People who are passionate about breathing (that just about covers everybody else!)

I will be keeping an updated tally on my FB page with the number of people who have donated, and the number left to go. Remember, we just need 260 people! Will you be one??

To donate, just go to Travis’ website: www.seetheartinme.com (see the art in me, no spaces)

The LAST DAY TO BE ENTERED INTO THE DRAWING is SUNDAY, JUNE 10th, 2012, but Travis will gladly accept donations anytime after that!!

*The quilt is a ‘sofa’ quilt or ‘lap’ quilt,  measures approximately 70″ square, and is large enough to display on top of a queen-size bed. It is made of all-cotton fabric. It was designed and made entirely by me. The materials cost approx. $85, and required approx. 30 hours to complete. In time and materials, it is well worth $350.00 (IMHO).

The quilt could be yours! Just click donate above and follow the instructions. Each donation of $25 will receive one entry. The more you give, the better your chances!

Making Lunch the Viking Way — How to make a healthy sandwich

It’s like I’ve never had a sandwich before. It was my first trip to Europe; more than two weeks in Bergen, Norway, a city that thrives on the fishing industry. I was invited there for the holidays by my girlfriend, Anne Berit, to meet her family and to experience some of her culture. I absolutely loved it —everything from the language to the holiday traditions — and yes, even the sandwiches. So a few months later when she arrived back in Hawaii after her extended stay at home, I decided to sit down with her and find out what was so magical about the sandwiches in the land of the Vikings.

“It’s all about the bread,” Anne Berit remarked. In fact, I’ve come to realize that Norwegians take a lot of pride in the bread. Their bread is made out of “real stuff” — only healthy grains, oats and seeds. It’s not refined, enriched, or bleached like much of our bread is here in America. The whole grains and seeds gives it more flavor, and it’s not sweet like ours; you can actually taste the grains. Using good, heavy bread is what makes it so satisfying. When most Americans would eat a bag of chips with their sandwich as filler, Norwegians are content with a piece of fruit, if anything, with theirs.

After you’ve picked the right bread, there are several combinations of ingredients you can add. But the most common combinations are Norwegian brown cheese and jam, white cheese and cucumber, or liver paté and cucumber. The brown cheese with blueberry preserves is one of my personal favorites. Norwegians are famous for their caramelized cheese with a silky, sweet taste. But whether it’s brown or white, one thing is the same — it’s real! That’s what separates it from most of the “cheese” we get here that’s usually made from oil.

Gudbrandsdalsost Norwegian brown cheese

You might consider these ‘beginner’ combos as their versions of our common PB&J — most children would take them in their sack lunch, or matpakke, with some fruit and milk. “Matpakke can sit in a backpack for a day without going bad,” Anne Berit added. It’s an easy, quick, semi-healthy meal that will last.

Making lunch for the kids? Try having fun with it — and use healthy ingredients!

There are more advanced sandwiches for the adventurous types, and that’s where making a sandwich turns into a masterpiece. Anne Berit’s favorite sandwich includes avocado, sliced bell pepper and zucchini, and boiled egg seasoned with sea salt. Then it’s topped with pepperskinke: a seasoned, thinly sliced lean cut of ham. “When you really want to make the sandwich into art and really take it out there,” Anne Berit says, “add ruccola lettuce or spinach.”

One of my favorite "closed" sandwiches - multi-grain bread, avocado, premium turket, zucchini, red onion, red bell pepper, tomato, green leaf lettuce, and italian seasoning

Another popular sandwich is the flekræsj, or “plane crash”. It consists of canned mackerel and tomato sauce. Wondering where it gets its name? Just imagine what it looks like! But Anne Berit explains that there are a few combinations you must avoid, like brown cheese and ham, ham and jam, or basically anything with mackerel!

So whether it’s mackerel or brown cheese, there’s one thing to remember if you’re eating at home — You don’t close it. You eat the two slices of bread separately, each topped with whatever you prefer. That’s most important. “This is a really versatile food. You can have it for breakfast, you can eat it for lunch, you can eat it for supper. So we eat a lot of bread,” Anne Berit said.

Fast food restaurants, highly processed groceries, and oversized portions are corrupting our nation and causing an obesity epidemic. After this amazing, unforgettable trip, I’ve discovered there are many things we can learn from our Scandinavian friends. Maybe it’s the simple act of making a sandwich that could be the most profound.

Why you do the things you do: Does the fruit match the roots in your life?

What kind of fruit is your life producing? Last week I was able to listen to Darlene Cunningham, Loren Cunningham’s wife, explain the Belief Tree. In YWAM, we use this illustration to explain how your core beliefs, values, and your worldview determines what  the “fruit” is in your life – or the actions that you make.

In order to grow, good, tasteful fruit, a tree needs to be planted in good nourishing soil. When it comes to our life, our soil is our worldview. Worldview is how we see the world around us, and what lenses or filters effect how we see it. Christians should have these four basic presuppositions as their biblical worldview.

  • God is infinite and personal
  • Humans are finite and personal
  • Truth is constant and knowable
  • Our human choices are significant, and have consequences.

From our worldview we develop beliefs, which are our roots in the belief tree illustration. These beliefs are what we consider to be truth, or moral imperatives. This would be something that you see as absolute truth, such as the belief that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He died and rose again.

From those truths, we then grow our values, or the trunk of the tree. Values are things we see as good — such as hospitality, politeness, good communication, prayer, and so on.

Then from the trunk we see the branches grow, and these represent any principle-based decisions or policies. These are the policies you place in your life because you decide that it is right to do so. For example, I have chosen not to smoke because it is right not to harm my body in that way.

Another decision I have made is that I live to serve God. That policy is based off of my belief that God exists and created me, as well as my value that God loves me and has a plan for me. I want to live for Him because I know His way is best.

Finally, the fruit on the tree represents the actions you make in life. These are things you do because you believe it is wise for you to do them. You might recycle in your home because you believe that it benefits the planet, and you’ve made a decision to do so. Or maybe you invite friends over to your house because you value the friendships you have, and you’ve decided you want to spend quality time with them.

Ultimately, your beliefs determine your actions! So here’s something to think about — do your actions reflect your beliefs? If they don’t, then there is a missing link in the tree. When you think about the things you do, the actions you make, ask yourself one question. Why? Why am I doing this? Is it because of a decision, based on what I think is good, which is based on my beliefs?

Or think of it this way — what if my belief on this subject was different? Then how would I act? What is the fruit? Obviously if I did not belief that Jesus was the Son of God, nor that He died for my sins, I would have no reason to live for Him. But if I do believe all of those things, and I’m not serving Him, what is wrong with this picture?

I think there are many people in the world today that believe certain things, but their actions aren’t reflecting it. Many people believe in God, but what are they doing about it? Would you know it if you were watching them? In many cases, you would not.

So what about you? What kind of fruit are you producing? Does the fruit in your life match the roots in your life?

I’m going on outreach!

I have heard it said that once you get a tattoo, you can’t wait to get the next one. Mission trips are exactly the same.

My first mission trip out of the country was for my Discipleship Training School (DTS) outreach to  India in 2005. That trip absolutely changed my life. Since then, I’ve only been beyond our borders for missions just once, and that was a trip to Mexico in 2007 — Five years ago. Needless to say, when I re-joined YWAM about a year ago, I had my heart set on travelling abroad once again. Well, I’m happy to say that the time has come!

My girlfriend Anne is staffing a DTS with a focus on sports — discipling not only athletes, but coaches and trainers alike. The two of us have reached a point where we need to see what it’s like to work together. So I’ve decided to join her for their outreach next quarter!

Anne & me at the Easter sunrise service

Where we’ll be going

Around the beginning of July, Anne and I will be co-leading a group of 9 missionaries to the Dominican Republic for three weeks. While there, we’ll be building a house with Homes of Hope, an organization that builds houses for the homeless and low-income families. We’ll also be running a sports camp of some kind.

After three weeks in the D.R., our group will then join the other 2 Sports DTS outreach teams in London, England for 6 weeks of missions surrounding the 2012 Olympics! YWAM always has a massive missions presence at the olympics, and this year is no exception. There will be a week-long international arts & sports festival called Go4Glory followed by the More Than Gold olympic outreach.

For those 6 weeks, our team of 17 students plus staff will be camping in tents at the YWAM base in Harpenden, England. This is the base that I initially wanted to join before God led me to the Kona base. I know God had me come to Kona for many reasons, but it will still be awesome to see the Harpenden base!

What I’ll be doing

Not only will I be co-leading the outreach to the D.R., but I will also be going as a representative of CROWN, the office I work for here at University of the Nations Kona. I’ll be busy writing for Transformations Magazine. I’ll also be travelling as a team building coach!

How you can help

In order for me to go on this trip, I have to raise quite a bit of money — several thousand dollars actually. But I strongly believe that this is something God wants me to do in this season, not only for my life as a missionary, but also for my relationship with Him and with Anne. It’s been too long since I’ve gone on outreach. Will you join me?

In order for this to happen, I’ll need friends and family like you to contribute to my fees. These costs are over and above my normal living costs here in Kona. So I’m asking you to please pray about this. Ask God how much He would have you to donate, and then obey.

Everything you give is tax-deductible. You can give straight from my website on the right-hand side of the page, using your credit card or PayPal account. It’s that simple! Please know that I am forever grateful for your involvement. I couldn’t do this without you! Thank you so much for all of your love and support!

 

How Are You Going With The Crowd?

What if you were actually in the crowd the day Jesus died?

I was thinking about this today, Good Friday, as I read the account of Jesus’ death in the Gospel of John. I always like to think about the circumstances surrounding a particular event when I read it in the Bible. Take a moment and think about what it might have been like facing Pontius’ Throne of Judgment.

What it would look like walking into town

A crowded square. People are pushing against you from either side. It seems everyone is carrying goods from the market, busy making last-minute plans for Passover. Contrasting smells of incense and body odor cling to your nostrils. You’re covered from head to toe with dust being kicked up from the crowd — as if your walk to town wasn’t enough.

Everyone’s talking about some movement happening near the governor’s quarters, but with all the commotion, you can’t really tell what’s happening. Once in a while, the noise is broken by the sound of rustling chains, or an occasional rooster crow. That’s odd, you think, It’s a little late for the rooster to be crowing.

That’s when you see him — the man in chains. He looks oddly familiar, but with the bruises on his face — and all the dust — you just can’t make out who he is. But apparently, he’s a bad man. All the high-and-mighty pharisees in black are screaming, wearing masks of hatred. Yeah, this guy must be pretty rough.

So Pilate, the governor, went out to them and asked, “What is your charge against this man?”

“We wouldn’t have handed him over to you if he weren’t a criminal!” they retorted.

“Then take him away and judge him by your own law,” Pilate told them.

“Only the Romans are permitted to execute someone,” the Jewish leaders replied (This fulfilled Jesus’ prediction about the way he would die). ~John 18:29-32 (NLT)

As Pilate stepped inside, the attention of the crowd immediately switches from the doorway to each other. Everyone looks confused — Who is this guy, and what has he done? a few minutes passed by until once again, attention was drawn to Pilate’s headquarters.

[Pilate] went out again to the people and told them, “He is not guilty of any crime. But you have a custom of asking me to release one prisoner each year at Passover. Would you like me to release this ‘King of the Jews’?”

But they shouted back, “No! Not this man. We want Barabbas!” (Barabbas was a revolutionary.) ~v. 38-40

Once again, the doorway was empty. “Who would want to release this man?” people were saying in the crowd, “He’s obviously a criminal!” The crowd is becoming more restless as time ticks by. But no one was prepared for the gruesome sight that came next.

Pilate went outside again and said to the people, “I am going to bring him out to you now, but understand clearly that I find him not guilty.” Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said, “Look, here is the man!” ~John 19:4

That same man in chains is now covered with deep lashes, blood covering his worn-out body. He’s obviously in pain, as it seems every part of him is trembling in agony.

Oil on canvas painting of Jesus standing before Pilate by Ivan Glazunov

When they saw him, the leading priests and Temple guards began shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

“Take him yourselves and crucify him,” Pilate said. “I find him not guilty.”

The Jewish leaders replied, “By our law he ought to die because he called himself the Son of God.” ~v. 6-7

Once again, the governor and prisonor are out of sight, and once again, the noise of the crowd rises a few decibels. But the crowd isn’t the focus of your thoughts — you’re still picturing that beaten, bleeding body. He thinks he’s the son of God? Wouldn’t the son of God look a bit more –I don’t know – magnificent? Your thoughts continue to wonder about this man. Somehow the dust on your skin and the groceries in your hand just don’t seem to matter so much at the moment. Your eyes quickly shift at the movement at the doorway once more.

Pilate brought Jesus out to them again. Then Pilate sat down on the judgment seat on the platform that is called the Stone Pavement (in Hebrew, Gabbatha). It was now about noon on the day of preparation for the Passover. And Pilate said to the people, “Look, here is your king!”

“Away with him,” they yelled. “Away with him! Crucify him!”

“What? Crucify your king?” Pilate asked.

“We have no king but Caesar,” the leading priests shouted back. Then Pilate turned Jesus over to them to be crucified. ~v. 13-16

Much of the story that we know was left out for the crowd – in fact, Pilate’s complete conversation with Jesus behind closed doors were not known to the onlookers in the square. They never heard a word from Jesus. But obviously, Pilate is not convinced he’s a criminal.

So why does the whole crowd want him killed? As I read this my own thoughts were, I wonder what I would have done if I were there? Would I run toward this son of God, covering his body with my dusty cloak? Would I try to convince everyone around me that maybe we should hear the guy out, or would I follow the crowd for fear of being different?

The truth is, I’d probably follow the crowd. That’s when it hit me – it’s time for us to stop following the crowd. You see, we’re still following the crowd. We still give in to the peer pressure around us that causes us to turn a blind eye to the crucifixion of Christ. Each time we choose to do what is popular over what is right or godly, we’re subconsciously screaming, “Crucify Him!”

Are you going with the crowd, or against it?

Ask yourself, “How am I following the crowd?” Barabbas may have been a revolutionist, but he was a violent man.  As Christians, we are called to a new revolution – We’re called to stand for justice.

Bad Behavior has blocked 58 access attempts in the last 7 days.