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1K MONDAY - Pray for North Korea

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Pray for Carlos

A few days ago I received a message that Carlos ran away. I cant really say that I was all that surprised. I would probably have done the same. I know Carlos really well, because he was my little boy for four years when we lived together in El Salvador. I got to teach him in school and then we would hang out all afternoon. He taught me so many things and if there is one person I could lay down my life for it would be him. 

 He is sixteen years old and more than capable to survive on his own, but obviously it’s not legal, and so the Strong Tower Children’s Home, where he lived on weekends, has to report it. It’s not like he is hiding and they don't know where he is at. He has actually been visiting a few of the other deaf and jumping from house to house. The hardest part for me is not that he ran away, what hurts the most is to see the response of people who say they love Jesus. 

 I need you to pray with me! I see a spiritual battle for Carlos’s soul and I need real believers to help me fight. Honestly it’s really hard for me to have faith right now. I feel a lot like the father who cried to Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24 ESV)! It’s not just an attack on Carlos but being so close to him I feel the attack on me. My prayer to God is not that Carlos goes back. My hearts cry is that he can find someone who will love him the way God loves him. 

Note: The picture was taken when I took Carlos to the beach only a couple of days before I left El Salvador. 


Rule Number One

Rule number one "You must make a CHOICE, to take a CHANCE, or your life will never CHANGE." Now, I am aware that there are many people out there who don't believe in chance, but that is not the way I am looking at this quote. I am approaching it more with the idea of faith, the act of stepping out into the unknown. So hang with me please.

In my unwritten list of rules I consider this number one. It has brought me to where I am today. If you have not heard already, I am officially a college student, attending Bethel College and majoring in ASL/Interpreting. The journey getting here has not been easy and if I had not made a choice to take a chance, I would not be here. Before moving on let me make something clear. I am here because of what God's done in my life and where He is leading me, but I believe it also takes me to live out rule number one in order for this all to happen. The honor and glory goes to my Father who has made me the person I am. 

The obstacles I have faced on this path where mountains that I would have considered unmovable, and here is what I learned through them. Either they are going to stop me dead in my tracks and keep me from moving forward, or then God will remove them to show me clearly that He is in this. The latter has happened and I am in the midst of living out what I have dreamed of ever since I graduated high school over seven years ago. 

I ask myself often, "why am I doing this?" The answer is, I love d/Deaf people. 

 Being able to do what I love is fulfilling. Somehow, I manage to put up with all the homework and the overwhelmed feeling that I get every weekend. 

I have LOTS of writing that is required and to do any more than necessary seems a little odd since I never really catch up on what is required. It has brought me to the question "Why do I write this blog?"

 As much as I love writing on this blog, I also struggle with it. I don't know what all I will continue to write and post. It is very easy to write a blog like this for all the wrong motives even when it looks so good. 

I guess what I am trying to say is the future of this blog is being questioned, and I hope to always keep it there. 

and if you wondered. Yes, I am very fascinated by Gibb's list of unwritten rules. 


Missing my friend

A year ago on June 6, I said goodbye to Brett. Wednesday would have been his birthday and I couldnt help but think of what a birthday in Heaven with Jesus would be like. That smile that no one was able to wipe away is still on his face, in fact I know its only gotten bigger. Its pretty exciting to think of what all he is doing and experiencing now. To think that he is able to see and be with Jesus is mind blowing. Getting to talk with some of his heros. Wow! I guess I get kind of jealous sometimes but never would I ask him to come back. Not to this world!

Honestly, its hard to believe that a whole year has past since that day, I remember thinking there is no way life can go on. Well, obviously it does if I want it to or not. For a long time life was more about survival than anything else. I still have questions. I haven't even gotten close to understanding why this happened. Why was it Brett? Why did it happen to my team? I still struggle with knowing how I feel and how to process it all. I struggle with all the different emotions that come and having no idea what to do with them. I often think I should be able to sit down and write about all the good things that came out of this, and even though its been difficult I should be able to say its been good. Well, thats not happening and I get this feeling it may never happen. 

I believe thats its okay to ask God questions and then be okay if I dont understand it or get the answers I want. I just know its been a journey that I wouldnt have chosen, had I known what all it consisted of. Its been a journey of trust, and when I say trust it means I really dont know whats going on.

I'm discovering that the questions and things that I allow to hold me back could actually be a source of great motivation in moving forward. Motivation to live my life like Brett, passionately and loving. Instead of wandering around trying to get it figured out and wanting answers, what if I would start running as hard as Brett did? Besides hasn't he obtained exactly what I want? I do really want to see him again and for that to happen I am going to have to keep running! I feel for me right now is to claim the verses that Brett had in his pocket when he died. (Philipians 3:12-14) Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

I am so thankful for the new family I get to be apart of. Bretts parents have encouraged me so much in just watching them trust in our Father. To Merlin, Gina, Bryce, Harlee, Dominick, Nathan, Ryan and Jeremy, I love you guys and appreciate you. You are an amazing family. 

I still wish he was here to live life with and run the race! What I wouldnt give to be able to give him a hug and say Happy Birthday! I miss my friend and wont ever forget him. 


When things get cloudy

Sitting at the window of the airplane I looked out and saw nothing but the wing. Nothing in front, nothing above and nothing below. At the same time I realized how the wing was the source of keeping us in flight. It makes it possible for us to fly, to get to our destination. Obviously, the wing needs propulsion for it to be useful. 

A picture of life came to me and I heard God speaking to me in a specific area where I have been wrestling with all day or week I could say. And I don't really care how cheesy and childish it might sound, I'm not here to sound all grown up. 

For some time now, I have been hearing God calling me to college, the next step in feeling called to be a voice in the deaf culture. Life has felt a lot like looking out of this airplane window, not being able to see anything. I know where this aircraft is taking me (at least I think I do). But right now at this point I would have no idea how to get there. It's how I feel right now. I know what my goal is, but how to get there? I just can't see much. 

What God told me though this picture is,"Wesley, just put your wings out, and trust me. It's fine that you don't see anything, in fact I intended it this way because if you could see the path ahead, you wouldn't take it. You are going to go through storms but also smooth times. I need you to do one thing now, trust me. I'll be your propulsion. I will take you to your destination. Remember, this flight is a life long journey, we start and there is no stopping. You pull in your wings of trust, you know what happens. Let's do this together. Just put your wings out and trust me. Remember, Wesley, the journey right now is more important than the destination. If you do it with me we will get there."

As we flew on, still not seeing anything, we got into a lightning storm. It was rough, people got worried and scared. It didn't really effect me and I started wondering why. It pretty much came to the fact that I knew it would do me no good. I'm not in control of this aircraft, I do not want to be nor do I have any idea how to be.

The last while I have been discovering how very little I know about life and that I have no idea how to live it. What do I do? It hit me all of a sudden, do the same thing I did sitting in that airplane. Not worry. I know this is easier said then done but when I realize I am not in control and that I wouldn't know what to do if I was. It's a little easier to let go and trust some one who does. I know the one who does know how to live life because he created it. How awesome is it to watch the inventor display his product, and to be taught be the designer. I want this!



A sleeping disconnect

A few days ago a young fifteen year old boy in Pakistan died after being beaten and burned for being a Christian. It triggered something pretty deep inside of me that I can't forget about. I'll be honest, I wept and I got angry! This is so pathetic and unfair!

Age fifteen and dying for his faith, meanwhile us youth in America run around trying to find a life, complaining about our churches, youth groups, and how nobody "gets it" anymore and everyone is doing it all wrong. It is becoming "cool" to be dissatisfied, struggle, and talk about a radical life style. It gives us a good feeling, we think we suffer, but we have no idea what it means to suffer. We live thinking that somehow we will find heaven on this earth. Really!?! How can I spend all my time figuring out the best place for me to live, work and "go into service", when meanwhile this fifteen year old boy, who was probably still in school, is beaten and tortured for professing Christ. I am the guilty one here, I come back from "the mission field" and am the one trying to figure things out, how I want to live my life, what the future looks like and how I want to move forward. I spend so much time thinking about the future that I am missing right now. I dream a lot about all the great things I want to do! Then it hit me, We dream when we are asleep. Am I sleeping?  

I read Luke 22:39-46 and wonder how could the disciples sleep while Jesus was sweating great drops of blood because of the agony, knowing he was about to take on himself the sin of the world, be beaten, tortured and die. I've always had a bit of a bitter attitude towards the disciple for this and thought them to be pretty weak. 

I can't say a word. I am guilty! I get this picture that we in America are doing the same thing. We are sleeping while the persecuted church is following Jesus's example of laying down self for the will of the Father. 

Seriously, why doesn't it connect more with us that people are giving their lives for Christ? We read about it and it hardly affect us. Am I really living for the same thing they are? Meanwhile we pray to God about financial debts and slow business. We pour thousands of dollars into our church buildings and houses. And then the rest goes into insurance to protect it. At the same time churches are are being bombed and burned to the ground and we do no more then read about it. This is only a sign our deeper issue and sending them money isn't the solution. 

What did Jesus tell his disciples before and after he went a little farther to pray? "pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Have I fallen into temptation and gone to sleep? Why do I find it so hard to watch and pray as the world right around me plunges deeper into darkness? Is the American Dream the temptation Jesus warned us about?

My first reaction was I need to go to Pakistan and fight for these lives to help, and encourage them! But that again is not the answer. How can I do that, when I really can't identify with them. It's not about doing something for the persecuted church, so they don't face persecution. No I can't stop that nor do I want to, its exactly what Jesus said will happen if we follow him. It's about forsaking all that we have and identifying with Christ right where we are at. This I believe is the most we can and must do. To forsake all and follow Christ is the call. Maybe God will call me or you to Pakistan, and he does some people, but how can I forsake all and follow God in Pakistan if I can't do it right here in America. Is this why there is such a disconnect with the church here in America and with what's happening to the church in Pakistan? I am guilty that I have not been living for the same thing they are giving their lives for. Is what I am living my life for, worth Christ dying for? 

I struggle posting this because I don't have the answers, I know so very little about forsaking all that I have and following Christ. My life hasn't been an example of all this. So I feel so unqualified to put this out there. I don't want to be another person trying to gain my life by struggling with what we don't do or what we should be doing. I want to be passionate about Jesus right now!


Living in Pain or Power?

     Looking back over the last weekend, I saw great things happening in the community. Spirits soared and people were encouraged. It all happened because it was Good Friday and Easter. We did things out of the ordinary in order to celebrate and remember what Jesus did for us. Some people were given the day off of work, some schools were closed, there were special church services and maybe a special meal. All this was done to remind us of the Suffering, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus.
     Its the middle of the week now, and back to “Normal life", back to work, back to school. I tend to look back and think "that was a good weekend." This is where I get angry because of the lies I have come to believe. Why is it this way? If I truly believe that what I just celebrated actually happened, I am going to live life completely different. Why is this kind of like a once a year spiritual high and closeness to God? Shouldn’t every day consist of doing things that point us to Jesus’s Resurrection? Things out of the ordinary to keep me intentional about life and the power of the Resurrection.
     The Holy Spirit asked me the question, “Am I choosing to live in the suffering of the cross or in the Power of the Resurrection.” I realize that I stop at the suffering and death on the cross and live my life there. When it is only there to point us forward to the Power and Life in the Resurrection. Right now, I found myself again moving back into the suffering of the cross. Matthew 22:32 says, “He is not God of the dead, but of the living."
Going from last weekend and what I learned, I am asking two questions:
- What does it mean for me to live in the power and life of the Resurrection instead of the pain and death of the cross?
- What is something I can do, to remind myself daily, of the power of the resurrection and to continue to live with the passion I had last weekend.
Do you have the same questions or something to add, maybe you have already found answers for yourself in this area? I would love to hear from you. 



Am I Born Again, or Being born Again?

What is life? What is death? What is Salvation? Am I saved, Am I born-again? I have never clearly understood this until a few days ago the Holy Spirit started teaching me things ever so clearly. Its hard to keep it inside; so I want to share with you the small picture of what this is all about. 

On the day that Adam sinned I became completely disconnected from God who is Life, therefore there was instant death that day to spiritual life. Physical life continued and therefore I exist today and was born into this physical world with a separation from spiritual life. I need to come to grips with this before I can truly understand what it means to be saved and born again.
The Holy Spirit is teaching me that what happens in the physical, is Him, pointing me to something way bigger that is happening in the Spiritual. For nine months I was in my mothers womb developing and growing physically in order to be born into physical life. Now that I have been born physically and grow, I have come to realize that I am dead spiritually. It is now that I can begin "being born again." I am saved and put into a spiritual womb were I now begin to develop and grow so that I can be born into Spiritual life. So there is only one way for a child to be born physically into this world and that is through a narrow hole with much pain. So it is with being born into spiritual life. There is only one way and that is through the excruciating pain of death, another narrow hole that every physically born person has to go through. Being born again starts in this physical life, and only ends at physical death and birth into Spiritual life. This life is like a spiritual womb where I develop and grow spiritually so that I can one day be fully born again into Spiritual life.
How is it then possible to be born into Spiritual life when death stands in the way as a punishment for my sins? Jesus walked a perfect path of life and made a way. He had life in Heaven with his Father, He left it all and was born physically, and the only way back to life with God was through death. Jesus lived in this so called spiritual womb and being perfect, was able to face death and defeat it, because death could not hold him, leaving a blood trail, into Spiritual life. 
As I develop in this spiritual womb, I have come to the cross, found the blood Jesus shed for me, and now choose to follow that blood trail all the way through death, and into Spiritual life. The truth is that only at physically death am I fully born again. I now see that death is actually the process of being born into Life! 
Have I as a follower of Jesus quit growing and developing because I thought I had already obtained spiritual life?
How much do I really want to be born again and live the Spiritual life that was intended for me in the beginning?
When am I going to see the truth that I was created to eat from the tree of life, instead of the tree of knowledge of good and evil?
Have I settled in thinking I am already born-again? Or am I in the process of being born again, growing and developing spiritually now, so that when I face death I will be fully born-again and live in Spiritual Life? The life that God intended for me to live when he first thought of me.





I just finished reading a book by Charles Stanley, titled, Landmines in the Path of the Believer. Not only was it a good read but also very timely with coming back to American life after living outside of it for nearly five years. I learned about all the hidden landmines that Satan places in my path that are going to explode and destroy me if I don’t take notice of them and do what I can to avoid them. 
Pride, Jealousy, Insecurity, and Unforgiveness are a few of the landmines that I have been stepping into. I am finding them hidden, not in the middle of my path, but more hidden in the least expected places. In places that my avoidance of them actually causes me to position myself in the place where they are hidden. Do you get the picture? A prime example would be the other day when some one gave me a compliment of being humble. I thought to myself, good I was able to avoid that land mine. BOOM!! the Land mine of Pride exploded in my face. Right when I thought I had avoided it, I actually stepped into it. 
I told God "I have no idea how to navigate this path!"
I can’t sit here and write out the steps to avoiding pride, jealousy, insecurity, and unforgiviness, because I don’t know.
But here is what I do know “If a landmine had the power to completely destroy a child of God, then it would have more energy and more velocity than God. But it doesn’t. God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. Absolutely nothing is greater than our God.” (Stanley 230)
I am human, meaning I am going to mess up and step into these landmines, but I also have God, so I will keep walking, trusting him to guide me.
I am coming to grips with the fact that I cannot walk this path alone and I wasn't designed to. 



Learning to Dance Soaking Wet

(Well, I am pretty excited to see this blog grow and today I have my first guest writer, and close friend, Brandon Yoder. He's a guy that is passionate about life and its real purpose. Its exciting to read about the journey Father is taking him on.) 

God has been teaching me recently about his love and how I relate to it. The first thing I want to say is that God loves you and me and nothing we do will make him love us more or less. He already loves us 100% and that will never change.

I think a lot of us know all this in our heads but when it actually comes to living it out, its a whole other ball game. The thing I find myself doing most often is believing that I need to work for Gods love. The more I do, the more he loves me, and vice versa. So often when I mess up and sin I try to get my life together, because of this thinking. I try and make everything look as good as possible before I come to the Father and confess. This idea is wrong and needs to change.

Take the story of the prodigal son. The son prepares this grand speech and expects to go home to a lower position than he originally held. As the son launches into his speech, the father stops him and says, "your my son, I love you as much as I always have, lets party!" I really feel that's how God looks at us when we come to him in true repentance. You're home, I love you, lets dance. (Luke 15)

Another story that really hit me is Peter walking on the water. We all know the story. Peter hops right out of the boat and walks on water. He promptly looks around and messes up. Jesus pulled him out of the water and gets him into the boat. The part that really gets me is the next verse. You would think the disciples would feel sorry for Peter and try to get him dry. Nope, they start worshipping Jesus. Peter could have been all down in the dumps since he just made a fool of himself in front of his best friends, but nope, he worships. Peter got it. Jesus loved him and nothing he did changed the fact that he simply needed to come to him. (Matthew 14)

Can I say that about myself? When I sin, do I run to Jesus right then and repent or do I try to clean up and earn back some of his love? If we try to do it that way, its never going to work. We need to learn that God loves us no matter what and nothing we do can change that. We must simply come, stand in his presence, accept and soak up his love. Only when we live like that can we truly love others like Christ loves us.

"knowing God means learning how to dance minutes after a mess up and worship Him moments after we just sunk."


What does God think of me?

Are you constantly asking the question "What does God thinks of me?” I’ll admit, its been my life. I thought it was the only question I needed to ask or worry about. I thought it was all that mattered and so I asked it constantly. 
     Well, the truth is it really does matter what God thinks of me and it is the most important question anyone could ask. Knowing what He thinks of me is Life! My problem is I keep asking Him over and over again, when He has already told me very clearly over two thousand years ago.
     When someone takes the punishment that you deserved, or dies so you can live, do you constantly walk around wondering what that person thinks of you? Isn’t it pretty obvious that his love for you is greater than his love for himself? 
Why then do I live each day asking God "What do you think of me?"
God answered me the other day with a question, “Who changed? Me or you? 
I started to see that it was Satan getting me to ask that question trying to confuse me and today I was able to break that chain in the Name of Jesus. I am writing this because it gets me really excited being able to quit asking the question, and start believing what Jesus told me hanging on what was supposed to be my cross. 
What does this mean for me going forward? Comes right back the the two greatest commandments Jesus gave, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind….You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37,39 ESV)
He has given me the answer and what to do about. Its not about asking the question anymore, its about BELIEVING and DOING! 



The Law Disease

"People don’t know how to drive anymore!” was my brother's complaint the other day as we sat chatting at the kitchen table! He was thinking of the snowy conditions in Indiana right now and all the accidents he's seen. He made me think and diagnose what I call the Law disease. Driving by our normal laws causes accidents in this weather, we need to know how to drive and respond to the conditions and changes in our surroundings. I have driven in a lot of different countries and no where in the world have I seen as organized driving as in the USA and at the same time I’ve never seen as many accidents either. I am often scared to try any of my signature maneuvers for the sole reason that people don’t know how to react to them. We have more driving laws than I can name and even more Law Enforcers. Why then is driving in America so high risk? Its because of the Law Disease that has stopped our brains from thinking and processing above and beyond the law. 
I found my brother's comment to be quite accurate. We as American people obey the laws and never really learn how to drive. We pull out on the road expecting the law to keep us safe. In all the countries that I have driven in, its not as much about the law as it is about watching out and being aware of your surroundings and what other drivers are doing or contemplating. Doing this you get to where your going as fast as you possibly can.
What I’m getting at is this, we need to know more than just the laws. The laws were obviously put in place for our protection, but the law itself will not protect us, and so we need to know why they were put there. 
How about taking this parallel and applying it to our Christian life? Am I just obeying the laws and expecting it to keep me safe as I try to navigate the christian life? Or do I know the reasons for the law, making me aware of what the dangers are, and how to respond to them? Am I able to adjust and keep going when things change from what's normal or expected?
Do you live your life controlled by the law or by the reasons behind the law?
Disclaimer: I am not saying that laws should be broken, I am saying that we need to know the reasons behind the law to be most effective.



The two trees

In the beginning of time all was good and there were two trees in the middle of the Garden of Eden. There was the tree of Knowledge of good and evil and the tree of Life. The past few weeks I have been thinking a lot about these two trees and asking questions trying to figure out more exactly what they all mean and why they were put there in the first place. I realize that there is still a lot more to learn but here is one thing that really stuck out to me and that I have thought of a lot as I go through each day. 

Obviously most of us know the story of how Adam and Eve chose to eat from the tree of Knowledge of good and evil. Here is the reality that God showed me! We too have a choice of which tree to eat from. I believe that by default we eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil because we are born with a sinful nature and because of that we live life constantly trying to figure out what is good and what is evil, allowing that to control the way we live our lives and run our churches. It causes a great confusion among us when we live this way always trying to judge and make laws. It brings out the differences in us instead of the commonalities. The truth is that we do have the choice to eat from the tree of Life. How is that possible, I had to ask myself? What does that look like? What is life? Life is clearly Jesus, because in John 14:6 it says "I am the way, the truth, and the LIFE, no man cometh unto the Father but by me." Believing in Jesus is eating from the tree of Life, the one we were originally destined to eat from. In the old Testament they had the Law which was about right and wrong. When Jesus died and resurrected in the New Testament, he went above and beyond the Law and made it possible for us to eat from the tree of life. 

Here are the questions I have been asking myself: What would happen if we as American Christian people would start eating from the tree of Life instead of constantly eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil? Would our priorities and focus be different? How do we expect the world to see Life when we are eating from the tree of right and wrong? Would the church begin to grow? 

Then the big question came to me that I am trying to learn to ask and live out everyday. How am I eating from the tree of Life today?


EDGE Photo Update


Slowing Down and taking the Curve

Slowing down seems so wrong when I look at the way I want to live life, but the reality is that there are times I need to slow down and take the curve. I view life as a journey, on a road that goes over some high mountains, along with passing through some very low valleys. I am driving, and like any normal road, when its straight I drive as fast as I possibly can and when the curves come I slow down to make it through. As the obvious would show if I don't slow down I would end up in the ditch trying to get myself back out, that is if if I still have enough strength to do that much. In the big picture of the journey I actually lose more time and energy by not slowing down. 

What makes me think of this? About three weeks ago I experienced this very thing on a dirt bike. Just having come through the mountains I got out on a straight stretch of road and guess what? A curve, a really sharp one, and... I tried slowing down but wasn't so successful. I lost control and obstacles where needed to slow me down. I definitely slowed down but in away that took me a lot longer to recover and get back on track. Life took a bit of a turn for me right then and I had to adjust, and fell behind on a few goals I had. 

I have just come off of EDGE, the fastest seven months of my life, and here comes the curve. I am back in Indiana, because God has called me to come back here, not because its the default. Its a completely different stretch of road, a totally different culture and way of doing things, in fact they drive on the "wrong" side the road here. I have to concentrate on slowing down, take the curve and navigate differently. No matter how good, and on track I think I've been, if I don't slow down and adjust to the changes, I will end up in places of no return. I have no desire to ride in the ditch and spend all my time and energy getting myself out of it. 

I know what I want the next stretch of life to look like, and to get there I need to slow down, and take the curve. This is how I will get to where I am going. 


Risk or Retreat? (Part 2)

We were created with the choice, risk or retreat? In the previous post I wrote about what I’ve discovered it means to risk it, by leaving comfort and going outside the city to where Jesus was, where it is dirty, despised, and dangerous.
So what happens when we make the choice to retreat? In Numbers 13,14 we find the Israelites unwilling to risk going in to take over the promised land. They chose to retreat from the mission instead of taking the risk. Only on the behalf of Moses's prayer to God, did he not destroy them all right there. God showed them his mercy and grace but he also showed them his judgment. He forgave them but with it came the punishment of wandering around in the desert for forty years waiting until the generation died off. 
I see a parallel with our churches in America. Way too many have made the choice to retreat from the mission that is clearly stated in Matthew 28:19,20 “GO and make disciples of all nations” We the church in America have retreated back into our nice big church buildings and fancy homes, at the cost of wandering around, deceived in our own religion.
Church, There is still time to find forgiveness. We have been given a mission, lets quit retreating and GO outside the city! The word GO doesn’t necessarily mean to a foreign land, all it means is GO. Go for me may mean half way around the world, go for you may mean your next door neighbor, the point is GO, and stop wandering around in Religion. We are not in the first century so lets quit trying to be a first century church. We have been given the freedom to carry out the great commission in whatever way will be the most effective TODAY.
Are you going to retreat back into comfort or are you going to risk it all for the sake of the billions of people out there who have never heard the gospel or felt the love of Jesus?



Risk or Retreat? (Part 1)

I have often wondered and asked the question, What does it mean to risk it all and be separated from the world? As a Christian I believe we are set apart and to identify with Jesus, but what does that look like? I read Hebrews 13 and saw a whole new picture of what it means to risk it all to identify with Jesus and carry our cross. I would highly recommend you get your Bible and read Hebrews 13 before reading on.

In verse thirteen we are commanded to go outside the city to where Jesus is. What is outside the city?

- Outside the city is where the sacrifice for the sins of the entire nation was taken and burned. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for the world, Where was he crucified? Outside the city.
- Outside the city is where the lepers, the despised, and outcasts, lived.
- Outside the city is where people where taken to be stoned. In Acts 7:58 Stephen was dragged where? Outside the City.

In other words we are commanded to risk it all, leave comforts of the city and go outside where it is dirty, despised and dangerous. It's where Jesus lived. It's where he did his ministry. Yes, we too will lose your life out there.
"Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." Matthew 10:39
"For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come." Hebrews 13:14

All that being said here is the promise that makes it all worth it.

"Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood." Revelations 22:14,15

When Christ returns, how can you or I be called into the City through the gates if we are not outside the city risking our lives identifying with Him?

Are you willing to take the risk or will you retreat back into the city?




Entering Third Grade

It was a cool dreary night in the mountains of China; the third day into our five day hike. I was laying awake in my leaking tent unable to sleep, exhausted physically, mentally, and spiritually. I was hungry and dreaming of a hot shower and a warm clean bed but miles away from that reality so there was no use letting myself go there. About ready to give up I realized that my soul and heart were longing to be filled by something. What is it, that it longed for? I cried out to the Father saying "I want you to fill me!"

The song "Sovereign Over Us" came to mind. Some of the words are:

"There is strength within the sorrow
There is beauty in our tears
And You meet us in our mourning
With a love that casts out fear
You are working in our waiting
You're sanctifying us
When beyond our understanding
You're teaching us to trust"

The most amazing feeling came over me as I could feel the Fathers presence come right down into that wet, stinky tent, met me right where I was at and asked me a question.

God: "Wesley are you willing to take the next step with me?"
Me: "But I thought I just took the next one, can't I get comfortable for awhile"
God: "You can't just stay in second grade your whole life, you must go on to third grade if you want to keep learning. You want to know me better right?
Me: "of course I do"
God: "well then let's do this together because it won't be easy"

It's then that I knew I had no choice! I got that same exciting feeling I did back when I was in school and finished second grade and finally got to enter third? I was excited about all the new things I was going to learn forgetting about the process that it sometimes takes to learn something.

A few weeks have gone by and all of a sudden I am struggling through the things I thought I had already learned in second grade. I quickly got discouraged, wondering if I took a step back instead of forward. Then it hit me, the first couple weeks after entering a new grade are reviews of the previous grade only a little harder and more in depth. I realized that these are obviously big points the Father wants me to learn and not forget.

The Father has given me a small glimpse of what third grade looks like for me. It looks hard! In so many ways I don't want to go through it but I have come to realize the only way to get to where I want to go includes taking the next step. So here it goes...


1K Monday 

As most of you know, I had the privilege of visiting the beautiful country of North Korea. Inside, the country is known as the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea). I saw many very interesting things, heard lots of theories about the Korean War and realized there are two sides to the story. I experienced first hand how we as Americans are blamed for provoking the war, and dividing their country into North and South Korea. I didn't feel at all like being an American during this time and wanted to disguise my identity; the fact is, I am an American, and the fingers are pointed at me. The Father reminded of my true identity in Him and He prompted me to apologize to our Tour Guides, on behalf of America, for the problems and divisions we have caused the DPRK. Our guides were shocked and weren't quite sure what to say. They then surprised me and asked us to pray for peace between our country and theirs. I felt a huge responsibility come over me and the Father told me it's time I take prayer for the DPRK more serious. This is where 1K Monday was developed.

There are four types of Koreans in the world:
- NK (North Koreans)
- SK (South Koreans)
- DK (Diaspora Koreans: Koreans living outside of the Country)
- LK (Lovers of Korea: which includes our team)

The prayer is that one day there will be only 1K (One Korea).

With that, my team and I decided that from now on we are dedicating every Monday to praying for One Korea and are calling it 1K Monday.
Prayers are already being answered. Since our entrance into the DPRK on October 12, three American citizens, who were being detained, have all been released. This is only the beginning and I am super excited to see what more the Father is going to do. There were only twelve of us on the team but our hope is that you will join us in prayer every Monday for 1K. If you are an LK and want to commit to praying for the DPRK and for peace between our countries, then let me know and I will add you to the 1K Monday call to prayer.


Building alters or a tower

In the past two months the Father has really been challenging me with the question, "Am I building a Tower or an Alter?"

What does a tower represent? Looking at Genesis 11, the people built the Tower of Babel for what? A name for themselves, that all the world would see their great work and what they were capable of doing. We read that this obviously was not pleasing to the Father and for that reason the T-betan people and I speak a different language today.

What about an alter? Abraham, Isaac and Jacob traveled all over as nomads and did what? They built alters and dedicated them to the Father. It wasn't about themselves and making a name but rather to show the Fathers presence in that place.

Being on EDGE its so easy to get sidetracked and begin focusing on all the things I've been doing and places I have gone and then think this will look good on my Christian resume and will give me a good name. The Father showed me how that is building a tower for myself and is an abomination to Him.

The last two weeks Jared and I were privileged to lead a team of three guys out into some of the darkest places in the world, camping out in the mountains, among the nomads of T-bet. One day we decided to a hike up one of the tallest peaks we could see. At approximately fourteen thousand feet we built an alter to the Father and worshiped Him there, in a place where He has never been worshiped before. We could feel his presence and as we looked out over the valley we were flooding with resources, we knew the alter was going to be a beacon to the lost T-betan people.

It became very real to me of what the Father wants of me, not a tower that brings me a name, but an alter that sits on top of a mountain and brings honor and glory to His Name!


Why is Deaf Ministry so hard. (part 2)

The Folling post is taken from Silent Blessings Deaf Ministries

Here are some additional reasons why Deaf ministry is so hard:

Deaf people are invisible to most hearing people. Deaf people are just not on the radar of most hearing people. They know Deaf people exist, but they have given little or no thought to how very different their lives must be. Consequently they make false assumptions about how much access Deaf really have to the world. They ASSUME most parents of Deaf children will learn how to communicate in sign language. (The truth: 80% of Deaf kids grow up in families where sign language is not used in the home.) They ASSUME religious instruction is carried on by the parents or the churches, but we’ve already shared that this is really rare for Deaf kids.
Hearing people believe that Deaf children can now be “cured” by cochlear implants and improvements in hearing aid technologies. This is NOT true. There is no “cure” for deafness. Indeed, the surgery required to implant the cochlear devices actually destroys any residual hearing the person may have. I’m going to address the cochlear implant in more depth in a future blog, but for now let me say I am NOT totally against these devices. They certainly have their place and they have been a blessing to many! But it is vital that you understand that the “hearing” offered by these devices is VERY different from what we would consider natural human hearing. The depth, the breadth, the power, the dynamic range, the rejection of unwanted sound elements — all of which the human ear working in tandem with the human brain can deliver — these elements are just not present for those who use the implants. There is NO “cure” for deafness and, despite what the surgeons will tell you, when a deaf child is forced to rely ONLY on the implants and is not permitted to learn and use sign language, that child is almost certainly destined to struggle more with language comprehension and is far more likely to live a lonely and socially isolated life than is a child who learns to sign at a young age.
There is a real shortage of well trained ASL users in North American churches. Most church interpreters are poorly trained volunteers who may have a heart of gold, but do not have the skills needed to clearly communicate important spiritual truths in sign language. Others (and I know this is going to sound very harsh but it is far more prevalent than you would imagine) are motivated by the emotional kick they receive by being in such a conspicuous position of benevolent leadership to these “poor pitiful disabled people” and fail to exhibit the winsome spirit of true Christlike servanthood. Such people often turn off the Deaf who may attend for a short time. Even if they have excellent skills and a true servant’s heart, they may be thwarted by pastors, worship leaders, or others who see the addition of sign language as a complication and a detriment to the worship experience of the hearing majority. I could tell you stories that would curl your hair!!
There is a lack of Deaf Christian leadership and a great need for more Deaf led churches. Just as English speaking hearing people can get so much more out of the experience worshiping in a congregation where nearly everyone can communicate freely in English, many Deaf people prefer to worship in a place where American Sign Language is the native language of the congregants. But Deaf churches (or separate Deaf worship services and small group opportunities) are still rare, and those that do exist are almost always found in larger communities — often towns with a residential Deaf school nearby. Thus, the most effective model for evangelism and discipleship for Deaf people is just unavailable to the vast majority of Deaf people in North America – especially Deaf kids.
These are the big challenges that make Deaf ministry so hard. Organizations like Silent Blessings Deaf Ministries are looking every day at ways we can help create new opportunities for Deaf people to come into life changing encounter with the precious Son of God. We have some exciting initiatives that are making a difference right now! And with your help we can do even more.