Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Frog in the Pot

Once again I am thankful for my home.  After travelling "Down Under" for 4 weeks, I spent a day in Olathe before packing up again and heading to Michigan to be with family for 9 days.  I am now back in Olathe and, at least for the next 6 weeks, am home to stay.  Below is a short story from Howard and Bonnie Lisech that has challenged me to be on my guard during my time of re-entry and my preparation for long term service in New Zealand:


" Drop a frog into a pot of hot water- it will instantly jump out.  Drop a frog into a pot of cold water and it will just swim around. Put that pot on the stove, slowly heat it, and the frog will simply adjust to the changing water temperature until it dies.

We believers are somewhat like that hapless frog.  Our surroundings are constantly changing, but often we are oblivious.  We just don't seem to get it. In scripture, God clearly revealed that we have three enemies- the world, the flesh, and the devil- will always be at war with the spiritual man or woman that desires to walk with God.

We are exhorted  not to be conformed to this world, yet we are pounded with its values, sights, sounds, philosophies.  The media seems determined not to merely report the news, but to subtly shape our thinking.  Advertising tries to convince us that happiness comes from the 'right' kind of shaving cream, cosmetics, or SUV.  Our values are "cooked" by the slowly increasing temperature of our surroundings.

A short term mission trip can be a slap-in-the-face wake-up call.  It reveals that God is more interested in lost people than he is in our resumes, job potential, or the balance in our savings accounts. We see we have so much compared to those who have so little.

Because our values have been challenged overseas, it's easy to become disillusioned  with the church and other believers.  Returnees often react to money spent on plush rugs, paved parking lots, padded church pews, and the life-style of their friends compared to the kids they saw trying to survive in the garbage dumps of Manila or Mexico City. However, just a few weeks earlier, their thoughts and actions mirrored those of their friends.

How can we live in this world without getting cooked? We must prioritize time with God!  It is imperative that before, during, and after our short-term experience we set aside quality time for God's Word and fellowship with him. Every believer acknowledges he or she needs to do this. However, many of us are so busy that we push this discipline aside and sacrifice it on the altar of life and ministry activity. Remember that poor frog? Things seem so cozy, and it's only a degree or two warmer.. .

. . . if we are too busy to change, then we better check the water temperature.  It's never too late to "jump out" and avoid the fate of that frog that gradually lost its will to change and survive.

" Remain in me and  I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  I am the vine and you are the branches.  If  a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:4-5).

-- Howard and Bonnie Lisech, Deeper Roots

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Home sweet home!

Hello friends!

   After 4 weeks in Australia, 4 days in New Zealand, and 4 days (round trip) in the air I arrived home in Kansas City last night at midnight.  I didn't have much time in New Zealand, but it was nice to see my new home and meet the wonderful folks I will be serving with in just a few weeks time.  Please enjoy some quick photos from Whangereri, (pronounced "Fung-er-ay") New Zealand, on the north island.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The South Coast of Australia

Today I was pleasantly surprised when my friend Bronwyn took me for a little road trip down to the south coast of Australia.   The pictures don't do it service, but try to imagine being there graced with the cool ocean breeze and salty sea spray mist in your face.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Catching a wave 101 ...Life 101

After enjoying some surfing lessons on the Gold Coast of Australia with our mission team today, I was struck by how closely the techniques in correctly catching a wave relate to my own personal journey to New Zealand.  I've taken surfing lessons a few times before, but each time it seems I have to re-learn a few basics.  Here are some things to remember:

1) Always keep your eyes forward, because your body will follow where your eyes are looking.
2) Nose dives on the board are a bad thing.
3) Never underestimate the power of the ocean.
4) Rip tides can take you to places you don't want to go, but if you find yourself caught in one, don't panic.  Just ride it out until you get to shore.

Among my many successful and not-so-successful attempts at riding the waves today, I learned some valuable lessons that I can't help but believe were given to me  for my preparations to be a missionary in New Zealand.

There were times today when I caught the perfect wave, hit the sweet spot on the board, and was able to get to my feet fairly quickly in order to ride the wave in safely.  What a thrill!  Unfortunately there were far more times when I wasn't prepared to catch the wave and found myself coughing up salty sea water after being slammed by a massive wall of water and smashed into the shore. Then I was off to run after my surfboard that had also taken a beating.

Occasionally there was a wave that seemed just too big, too ominous. Those were the ones that seemed to tower far above the rest. How could I possibly catch it and avoid being overpowered once more?  Here's how:  I had to be PREPARED; be prepared to act quickly and be flexible . . ..It was a must that I get my body and board in the correct position for the oncoming wave to crest and sweep under me, then slide on my stomach at just the right time and hang on for dear life.  Once on the board I must act quickly to hit the sweet spot  in order to finally get to my feet for the remainder of the ride in.  The waves do not wait for you to tell them when you are ready to ride. .. they lead the way and you will follow whether you like it or not.  Remember my rule #2?  Nose dives are a bad thing.

Let me be frank with you. It feels as though my big wave is about to crest.  I have to be prepared to catch it and put into practice everything I have learned  in order to survive and come out on the other side.  I left for Australia 3 weeks ago, knowing that would be the start of a long journey that would not end until I settled into my new home in Whangarei, New Zealand in September. I am just now finishing the first leg of this trip with the mission team from MNU.

 We have enjoyed 3 amazing weeks here in Brisbane and plan to fly out on Monday.  I will depart for Sydney and spend a week there with old friends before heading to New Zealand for 3 days to meet my future co-laborers for the gospel at New Hope Church of the Nazarene. After that I will return to the States for 2 days before making the long drive up to Michigan to visit family and friends.  Then it is back to the office at MNU August 1st to begin bringing closure to my work there and then back to move permanently to new Zealand in September!

The wave is about to crest.  .. .I can feel it.  If I am not prepared, prayed up, and ready to hold on tight to my Jesus and my faith, this is going to be a rough ride.  However, if I am in the correct position, anticipate the power of it all and ride it for all its's worth, it's going to be an exhilarating ride and God will be glorified.  Would you please pray for me?  I will be facing a lot of transitions, building new relationships, facing a sharp learning curve and I need God's help.  He is near now and I choose to trust him.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

In Australia with the MNU Team

Perhaps you have been following my sister blog, "Team Australia 2011", but if not here is a sneak peak of what our team of MidAmerica Nazarene University students have been up to here in Brisbane, Australia.  You can also see more pics and stories at  Most of the team members, including yours truly, have been able to post thus far.

For your viewing pleasure, here are just some fun pics of this beautiful corner of God's creation: