Wednesday, January 25, 2012

communication is full time

this years is going to be different...i can feel it.

but i know that it doesn't come spoon-fed to me in a pretty bow. i also know that i am not called to live in poverty (even though belgium provides her hurdles to my low income). so my prayers are with a balance in mind. my thoughts are with the knowledge that god already knows my needs but wants to hear me ask him for them.

prayer is asking him because i know he has it within his capability. in other words, he can.

but it's more than that.

it is asking him because i know he has it but also resting in the assurance that not only can he but that he will.

Monday, January 23, 2012

morocco you mo-rocked my mind

everything you thought you knew about morocco is probably outdated. the land seems to strike fear in some individuals. i am not going to lie to you, when i was invited to do this seminar and training of worshipers and musicians i was thinking...

wait, what? morocco? don't they feed christians to the lions?

upon the landing it was quite clear that this perspective could not be farther from the truth. there is a great respect for imams in the land. so when you confess to be a missionary they are taken to that term as you might think of a stranger coming into your home and telling you they are going to raise your children. a lot comes with that very terminology, "missionary," which will be discussed later. however, if you confess to being a pastor or teacher of the word, it seems, they hold a high respect for individuals of a similar fashion to their beloved imams. teachers of holy texts, worshipers of "sacred deities" and things of this nature. this sounds weird, even as i type it, but the mentality is completely different. no matter how many malls they build with massive aquariums and no matter how many wonderful "american" restaurants they invite to build revenue and try to be western they will always have the mentality that they have in common with their islamic brethren from around the world.

yet still, they are very tolerant to internationals. they hate american foreign policy but don't marginalize americans with what washington dictates to the rest of the world. and i echo the evangelical population of morocco with a hearty amen! the king of morocco, mohammed vi, has a very strong resemblance to what we find in the pharaohs of ancient egypt. it literally is allah, mohammed the prophet, and then mohammad vi according to the people of morocco. in reality islam is a smoke screen.

the "underground church" is a cool name that people put towards what really is going on in morocco which is the gospel working through the liberal tolerance that is islam. don't for one second think that god is not at work even in the most wicked of any regime. conversely, don't think you are safe just because you are in a dominantly tolerant society to preach openly in public. the simple message for us is to let christ be the light and the conflict that comes when you are faced with the conviction of your sin. you can be a christian and flourish in morocco. quite honestly they need more laborers as the church is growing faster than the pastors can keep up. one pastor will usually be over several congregations not because he wants to but because the church is growing.

i was tempted to entertain the thought of being apart of this movement for a longer term.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

c'est pas grave, right?

ok, i wasn't in any serious danger but my creative personality that was desiring to shine forth last night was the sncb rail system.

rarely does my beautiful, wonderful, and intelligent wife come home from work early. so when i heard the keys to the front door rattling and opening the door i was shocked and filled with joy. her coming home presents opportunities for me to do things i cannot do with kids around. if you are a parent with the ability to not care about what your kids are doing for 30 min to an hour at a time or interact with them only when something wrong happens then you have no idea what i am talking about. liz' presence gives me another set of eyes, yes, but it also gives me another set of arms to interact, ears to listen, feet to take them to the store, and a mouth to talk to them when they want to talk. usually my patience has run its course by the time she comes home...but that isn't what this blog is about.

she came home and i was thrilled with the amount of time i had to do whatever i wanted (she is gracious to give me freedom). i have recently made trips via the train to central station in downtown brussels by myself. there is a starbucks there, they offer wifi and i am able to people watch while thinking and strategizing about 9th hour projects and more. it really is my thinking spot. last night was that opportunity. except this time i was going to go over my notes for a worship seminar that i will be teaching this weekend in morocco (my first trip to the arabic world).

being in waterloo you will notice that the trains are good about getting you where you need to go but they are not as frequent or direct as they are from other bigger train stations going to brussels. so liz got home at 5 and the next train was at 5:57 to brussels. i rode my bike to the station and waited patiently for the train. :57 came and followed with an announcement that the train will be 14 minutes late. c'est pas grave, i can wait. the next train downtown was at 6:24, so surely it will leave before that one. well, the 14 minute delay came and went. what then proceeded to happen was, due to the fact that the delay ultimately was so close to the next train they (sncb) decided to just roll the two together. ok, fine, again, c'est pas grave, i can handle it. well, :24 came and went. around 6:30 the train shows up and i board a full train, not standing room only, but i had to share a bench with people kind of crowded, which in waterloo train language equals full.

yea!!! on the train, finally! well after about a 5 minute wait i begin to realize we are either waiting for a herd of cows to move or something. then the infamous, "attention, mesdames et messieurs..." which in english means something terrible will now proceed out of my mouth. the announcer says something about technical issues and please go to platform 1. everyone on the train, like a flock of sheep after the gate has been swung open, began walking disconcerted to platform 1. we waited...we waited longer, and then finally were told that a train will be arriving shortly on platform 2 (the platform we were just on) so we all walk back to the other side. IT CAME, HORRAY!!! we board and start our journey nearly an hour later then when i had arrived at the station. 2 stops into our trek to central the train stops moving in between scheduled stops. we wait, and wait some more. the announcer comes on and says there are some issues needing to be fixed.

at this point the time is 7:30 and it seems my productive evening has turned into a belgian nightmare. i can't understand french completely so my frustration can only match the expressions on peoples faces after they hear the news of what seems to be another train issue. they decided to send another train for us to board directly. we accomplish getting all passengers on board and our journey continues. i do finally arrive at 9:25. TOTAL FAIL. the next train leaving central for home leaves at 9:42 and the next one after that doesn't leave until an hour later. so i got a gross hotdog, because i was hungry, and a coke and waited to board the train praying to god i would not encounter ANY. MORE. DELAYS.

i got NOTHING done and oh yeah it is freezing outside! (wtbb)

i still say, thank god for public transportation. it still is pretty cool.

Monday, January 16, 2012

cold reflections

just so you know today is cold. it is so cold i don't even want to look at the temperature because it won't do justice to what kind of cold it really is.

taking dutch to school this morning with the trailer was brutal. that wind against my face made my petitions to the lord to provide a car much much louder.

today will be a great day to work inside. i am prepping for a worship seminar in morocco that al and i will be teaching. we leave wednesday. this is my first trip to the arab world, i am very excited.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

standing in prayer

we (9th hr) received an invitation to attend a prayer rally in liƩge belgium. nathan and i had been there before to give some exhortations and prophetic words so i kind of had an expectation as to what we might expect. but the other guys...i wondered what they might be thinking this would turn out to be.

anytime i am invited to a prayer rally my mind begins at that moment to wonder what kind of individual this is inviting me. if i have not known the person very long i may deduce that this person is either desperate for anyone to attend the rally, or they generally don't care who shows up because i mean hey, its a prayer rally! who cares if your a catholic, baptist, methodist, lutheran, or even muslim. maybe this person is just a gatherer and knows that there is power in numbers. whatever the case, at times, i am taken back by someone i barely know asking me to come to their prayer rally. like a party, i wouldn't invite just anyone. i would invite people who i think care about me or that particular individual the party might be for. that is just me though.

one of the biggest causes for this thought is that awkward setting at a prayer rally when no one actually is engaged in prayer. like if i had a ticket to see the rangers in their world series run and i am just sitting there in my chair not doing anything to show i am into the rangers and their opportunity. i want to just make a note here and say that this did NOT happen last night but has been something i feel for any prayer setting. i really dislike "warm body" prayer meetings.

there is always a challenge in me when i go to prayer meetings that haven't had a designated focus and there is quiet somber atmosphere. i begin to think to myself, "what if i shouted out something, would that freak anyone out?" or, "what if i started to jump around people, would that distract anyone?" ahhhhh, just thinking about it makes my blood start to rush! i always, i repeat ALWAYS feel that challenge. i know i am a take the spotlight, center stage, class clown kind of guy so most of the time i know it is for the sake of getting attention that i would do this. but, i promise, as soon as i find a great way to connect this absurd sequence of events with a sleeping generation or a heart that needs to be awakened type of exhortation i will do it. there are individuals who have a calling for intercession and a life devoted to a "praying without ceasing" mentality. don't hear that as one who does nothing but pray. that is stupid to think that the spirit would draw us to pray and not prophecy, or pray and not sow seeds of the gospel (even the seed of intercession) unto others.

i am ok with admitting that i struggle with prayer rallies unless i am doing something to occupy my time (like playing music, or the watch leader). so when i preach that prayer meetings are sometimes boring, i am mostly challenging myself. i know it is the lord when i go into a prayer meeting and i feel stirred to stir myself.