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Saturday
Feb282015

LANDMINES!!

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. 

 

Friday
Feb202015

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."

Sunday
Feb082015

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! 

 

Friday
Feb062015

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.
 

 

Monday
Jan262015

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?

Saturday
Jan242015

EDGE Photo Update

Wednesday
Jan072015

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. 

Saturday
Dec062014

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?

 

Tuesday
Dec022014

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?

 

 

Thursday
Nov272014

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...

Sunday
Nov092014

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.

Thursday
Sep182014

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!

Wednesday
Sep172014

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.

Wednesday
Aug272014

Why is Deaf Ministry so hard. (part 1)

The Folling post is taken from Silent Blessings Deaf Ministries

The statistics are sobering:

  • Nearly 95% of all deaf children have hearing parents and only about 10% of those parents ever learn enough sign language to hold a conversation with their children.
  • Less than 5% of all churches in the United States offer any outreach to Deaf people at all, and it is extremely rare to find a church that offers age appropriate Christian teaching to Deaf kids.
  • Only about 2% of Deaf people have accepted Christ as Lord. (By the way, the upper case “D” means deaf people who use American Sign Language and see themselves as members of the Deaf culture.)
  • Deaf people who use American Sign Language (ASL) as their primary language are the largest unreached linguistic-cultural people group in North America.

Here is the truth, as hard as it is for us to admit: The places most people turn to for Christian teaching and spiritual guidance are simply inaccessible to Deaf people.

Parents, Sunday school teachers, youth leaders, camp counselors, pastors — and sometimes even “sign language interpreters” — lack the skills to make God’s truths clear and understandable to Deaf children and adults.  When there is no clear communication, there is no true access!

But changing this situation is very complicated.  Making a hearing church truly accessible to Deaf people requires serious commitment from staff, interpreters, and congregants individually, as well as a corporate commitment from the congregation as a whole. Often, a greater commitment than initially expected.

It’s not easy.  No wonder most Deaf ministries don’t last more than a few years – if that long. Other are stillborn.

Wednesday
Aug202014

White stone Identity

A young man walked up to the counter like normal, handed the Official his passport and expected to be on his way within the minute. Why would this be any different from the other twenty some countries he's stamped into. The Official behind the counter takes a long awkward look at the young man, than back at the photo in the passport. "Is this you?" he asked doubtingly. "Of course it is" answered the young man. The Official than demanded to see his drivers license. "Sure, this will confirm my passport and I'll be on my way" he thought to himself. No such luck, instead of his passport getting stamped, it was handed off to another Official who took the young man to the side for more questioning and proof of his identity. The young man was helpless. The identity that has taken him all over the world, and proves his citizenship, was for once not believed. After a while the Official, still somewhat confused. gave back the young mans stamped passport and allowed him to continue on his way. 

What a helpless feeling when every form of identity on you is still not enough to prove who you are. Where are you finding your identity? How would you feel getting to Heaven, standing before God, and the identity you are carrying with you does not match the identity He has of you. He shows you your true identity with his blood marked on it and says "this was free for the taking and you refused it. You wanted to make your own." He refuses you a stamp and says, "Depart from me, I never knew you"

People, your story doesn't have to end this way. Did you know there is an identity available to you that surpasses all passports or birth certificates? An identity that promises entrance into a place of eternity with God. Revelations 2:17 says, "To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it." I get chills and goose bumps at the thought of an identity, a name, that no one knows or understands except you and your Father God. This makes me want nothing less than to have an identity found in God. 

Its all about right here and right now people! Do you know who you are? Where are you finding your Identity? Does the name written on that white stone identify you? 

Tuesday
Aug192014

EDGE Photo Update

Here are some pictures of my life on EDGE.

 

Tuesday
Aug122014

I will not Apologize

"All In (Apologize)" by Stellar Kart

It's easier to be the crowd, to just fit in and not stand out at all
To make a case for apathy, and never risk a thing in case you fall
And this is life and we all decide
The stand we take and this is mine

That I am not ashamed, wont walk away
Not trying to disguise, or ever hide the
Reason that I choose to be a fool
For the one who saved my life
I wont apologize

It's hard to walk a narrow road, and know that you might be the only one
To go where no one else will go, pressing on until the race is run
And this is life and we all decide
The choice is ours and this is mine

That I am not ashamed, wont walk away
Not trying to disguise, or ever hide the
Reason that I choose to be a fool
For the one who saved my life
I wont apologize

As for me, I am all in
As for me, I am all in, all in

I am not ashamed wont walk away
I can not deny

That I am not ashamed, wont walk away
Not trying to disguise, or ever hide the
Reason that I choose to be a fool
For the one who saved my life
I wont apologize

 

Sunday
Aug032014

A forty hour Training

Weighted down with Bread and sweat running down our faces, my team and I boarded the Shenzhen Metro and headed for the train station. The forty hour train ride ahead looked daunting and little did we know just exactly what we were getting ourselves into. We boarded the train for Chengdu, China and found our hard upright seats. We kind of just stare at each other and laugh knowing these next two days our really going to test us. Looking around I notice everyone else carrying buckets of food and drinks on the train with them. The thought of fasting the next two days was definitely not on our wish list because we had not brought more than a couple hours worth of snacks. If you get to know me and my team you would soon discover the word full isn't used much. There is always room for more food or to try something new. The train starts moving and I couldn't believe my eyes when I noticed all the seats were taken and there were people standing in the isles. The hard up right seats became quite comfortable all of a sudden and we took time to thank the Father for our seats and for the people who would try to steal them as soon as we would get up for something. Having someone try to squeeze themselves on to your chair with you is what I would call a true Chinese experience. Spitting all over the floor is just another one, and lets not forget all the cigarette smoke that filled the train car and our eyes and our throats and our lungs. It wasn't long before we all had a sore throat and a smokers cough. The most frustrating part was seeing the ignored no smoking signs all over. In desperation for some leg room and in hope of maybe an escape from reality I climbed on to the floor and stretched out under the seats. After two weeks in China, stares become a way of life. My team mate Denver and I slept, or should I say laid on the floor, giving the girls each two seats to somehow curl up on. Don't know how they do it. Every couple hours we would be awakened by the "La La la man" as we called him, pushing his cart down the isle with some snacks that I didn't know where eatable but when your desperate, its amazing what your willing to eat. I will spare you the details. Off course the isle floors are quite dirty by now with all the eating, drinking, and spitting. So miss train lady dips her mop into the toilet and proceeds to mop the isles. We finally got tired of acting like we were sleeping and decided to just have some good ole fun and make memories and that's exactly what we did. We all agreed to not just survive the train ride but to thrive. At one point we had everyone in the train laughing and the next thing we knew we had a group of spectators standing around us just watching and staring. We would talk to them even though they didn't understand a word we said, I know for a fact those people were effected by the teams attitude and how we gave it our best shot even under the circumstances. Seeing foreigners on a train like this was a rarity in itself let alone sleeping on the floor and having a party when awake. We were blessed to have the only English speaking guy on the train sit right beside us. Some even wanted to take pictures with us before getting off at their destination. We eventually did arrive at our destination and yes there were people still standing forty hours later. I told you we had a lot to be thankful for. What could have been the worst part of the entire three week trip ended up being one of the most memorable events. The biggest thing the Father taught me on that train, was that every situation is what I decide to make of it. 

Which side of the train am I choosing to sit on?

Monday
Jul142014

Desmond Hail Mast

Pretty excited to tell you all about my first nephew Desmond Hail Mast. He was born on July 7 to my brother Caleb and his wife Sandra! Pretty hard on me being half a world away and not being able to actually meet him for at least another five months. I did get to Skype with him the other night though and Caleb and Sandra have been doing an amazing job of sending me a picture or video once a day. Love the guy even though we've never met!!

Saturday
Jul052014

EDGE - Photo Upload

Click here to view the pictures in my Photo Album named EDGE