With New Ears

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions-is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17)

Culture plays a tune our ears have been accustomed to admiring. We must retrain them, and this must be done by listening repeatedly to a better sound. This sound may at first seem irrelevant, dull, and outdated since our hearing has already been warped by the world’s form. And this world would draw us away from music which would truly delight our souls. A sound so pure so transcendent so marvelous that naturally we do not have the capacity in and of ourselves to comprehend it.

So, where do we find ears fit for this kind of listening? Where can we buy the equipment to harness this sound?

We go to our Father. We go directly to the Creator of the world. The one in whom we “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). He had given us the ears we seek, but we gave them up for malfunctioning imitations because we delighted in the sound of death, though it was cloaked in a lie as life, like a wolf in a sheep’s skin.

Our Father, The Father, sacrificed his Son’s (Jesus) perfect listening so that more might call upon him to play the sweet sound of salvation. To play a tune of cheer and joyful noise, Good News to those who have rejected death’s droll (no matter how it is painted) and long for a lovelier lyric.

That is love, and to the trained ear it is the most marvelous masterpiece. We who have thrown out our abilities to listen to living music have again the opportunity to hear.

Let these verses be a warning to not go after that which is merely dressed-up dross (worthless and dangerous material). Do not pursue the song of self; It may last 80 years. Fight for, neigh, die to listen to the everlasting refrain of the beauty of God and his gracious artistry to weave our joy into his sovereign plan for the world.

Abide forever. Do the will of God. Love (1 John 4:7-12).

Condemned in Christ? I think not.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Was there ever condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, and now there is not?

That was my first question looking at this verse. I didn’t like that idea. It did not seem to line up with my understanding of being in Christ Jesus.

Rather than saying that now there is not condemnation in Christ, the Text is saying that, being in Christ we are not doomed. Our fear of punishment is released.

Once we were (or, perhaps, still are) apart from Christ and then the condemnation of sin and guilt and death weighed on us heavily, but now we breath freely as the Spirit of God dwells inside of us.

Once God was an enemy, but now in his pursuit he has adopted us into his family.

Jesus, sent by God, did what we failed at. He pleased God. He lived free of sin and shame and offers his spotless record to those who love God (8:28). Jesus gave his life taking our death.

He took our punishment at the cross, and “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Want to be free of condemnation and live in joy? Of course you do. Get in Christ Jesus. Love that Jesus is who he says he is and rest in that for the rest of your life.

Believer, same goes for you. Love Jesus.

 

Collide!

I love having the opportunity to spend time with my students outside of the classroom. There is a lot of time for me to do this and I try to take advantage of it so that our friendships grow and we get to see Jesus’ work in our lives.

On Friday nights there is a youth group for the missionary teens here in our area. This is a time where we can come together and worship God looking into his Word, enjoying one another’s company, and praying and singing.

I have the privilege of leading our time in the Bible for these next few Fridays. We will be looking into a few of Jesus’ miracles so that we can know who Jesus is better and worship him as we see him more clearly.

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This past Friday, we looked at Jesus healing a man with many demons in Luke 8.

Students – Josh & Joseph

One thing I was particularly challenged by was how, after Jesus healed the man, he asked Jesus if he could stay with him and Jesus answer was “No, go back to your hometown and tell others about what I’ve done for you.” And that’s exactly what the man did.

He didn’t need any formal training to be a missionary, and he was going to a very difficult place, a place not only that hasn’t had much exposure to the gospel, but a place where the man was known for who he was. The people knew him and all of his past and dirt.

It might have been easier to huddle up with Jesus and his boys and go to somewhere new, but he was called to his hometown. This is often the most difficult area for me to share of Jesus work because that hasn’t been my usual pattern for the last 22 years.

My prayer is that we would see the great and miraculous work that Jesus has done in our lives (bringing us from death and judgement to life and liberation) and that that would lead us to delighting in Jesus so much that breaking old habits would be joy giving and telling of what the Lord has done would be would happen easily.

Sorry for skipping November.

My "Motorcycle"

Driving on the left-hand side of the road isn’t weird anymore.

Neither is weaving my new (used) baby blue Yamaha Mio motorcycle scooter through heavy Thailand traffic.

I’m comfortable here (sorry mom…). Not that I don’t miss all ya’ll back in the good ol’ U.S. of A., but Thailand’s nice and so are the people I’m experiencing it with.

It is also nice to know that (Lord willing) I’ve got some consistency in my schedule for the next 5 months. I haven’t had that in a while. Recently, life’s been a series of transitions into stages of indeterminate lengths.

This enigmatic lifestyle has pushed me, surprisingly, towards a deeper belief/trust/faith/rest in God resulting in a life that is more consistently characterized by those things.

Prayer Request: After these next 5 months in Thailand I’ll be transitioning again. The future isn’t clear on this one, but I have applied to a seminary. If the Lord should open the doors for further training there, I think that is the direction I would like to take. Please pray that I’ll be accepted and for more faith and wisdom.

‘s all for now folks.

Teaching (or rather: Learning) in Thailand

I’ve just come to the end of my first week of full-time teaching here in Thailand. Before this week, I’ve had a little time to acclimate, acculturate and observe classes.

Since I’ve got zero classroom experience and just about as much teaching experience, I had no idea what to expect. It’s been more enjoyable than I expected. Not that I expected it to be unenjoyable, but I was a bit nervous about giving myself to this job and ministry from basically a blank slate.

Not only has it been a privilege and wonderful opportunity, but teaching has been very educational. I’ve been learning, and learning a lot. Here are a few of the things I’m learning:

  • How to plan lessons (learning this slowly).
  • I get to learn/relearn the material I’m teaching (Bible, history and language arts)!
  • That I’ve got areas that need growth, which allows me to continue in dependence on Jesus…
  • …and that God has graciously given me some strengths which I get to use to point others to the glorious hope that there is in Christ for true peace and happiness. This is a special privilege that I get to walk through with young men and women whom I am growing to know and love.

Here are pictures of the children I teach (minus one because Robert is still with his parents on furlough):

Sundays

Badminton at the church!

I’ve adopted badminton as my new sport. Just bought a new racket for 1,000. That is, 1,000 baht = 30 US dollars. Every Sunday we play hours upon hours of badminton as a church.

Sundays for me start out around 9am. Because the service here is all in Thai, we are encouraged (strongly) to sit under the teaching and faithful proclamation of God’s Word in English regularly. I like to do this Sunday mornings before church, and Will, a student of mine who is a senior this year, and I are planning on listening to Matt Chandler‘s current sermon series titled “Ultimate Authority” together for this purpose. Pray for us that our hearts would be soft to the teaching of God’s word and that we would be doers of it and not hearers only.

Around Noon, we then head over to our church building to have lunch and get ready for the church service. Here we have the opportunity to nourish our bodies with some delicious Thai food and our souls with each other’s company.

From here, we move into worship through singing, giving, and then the preaching of God’s word. All of this is in Thai, of course.

After the worship service, we all gather for more fellowship over fruit and other light snacks, and once things wind down a bit, we move into the gymnasium (attached to the church) for badminton.

A lot of those who come to worship Jesus at the church also will stay late and play badminton. Both guys and girls are extraordinary at this sport. My hand-eye coordination isn’t quite up-to-par yet, but I’m learning quickly they tell me.

Pad Thail - Delicious!

We usually go to Jaypon (not sure if that’s how it’s spelled, but it’s how it sounds), on the campus of Khon Kaen University, after Badminton in order to grab some more absolutely fantastic food for dinner. Pad Thai is quickly becoming a favorite of mine, and they always have great fruit smoothies. Food seems to be something that really brings people together here, especially eating out because it is so cheap (~$1 per plate).

I have really been able to enjoy getting to know these Thai believers, many of whom are first generations Christians.