Monday, December 27, 2010

Living in The Now

I find that as I go through life here I often compare it to my life in the States. One of the dangers of thinking too much of the past is missing the now. When we lived in St. Paul, we thought so much of Seattle that we didn't get fully into the life that was there. We were convinced that true happiness was to be found in Seattle. As Kim and I were talking about our new life in Kwaj she said that she really wanted to enjoy all that was now, she didn't want to repeat the mistakes we made in St. Paul.

I think there is great wisdom in that. We can be so focused on either the past or the future that we miss the now and the now is the only place we can really live life in anyway. Gratefulness is best practiced in the now. Prayer can only happen in the now and God speaks to us in the now.

We are learning to live in the now and to enjoy what God has given us now and to lean on Christ for our struggles in the now. I noticed that as we went out in the lagoon yesterday on boat for a little while we were able to enjoy the wonder and beauty of this place and to simply be present to what is. That is the gift and part of the learning of this new adventure.

The obvious thing is that you don't have to be living in Kwajalein to be open to the now, it is available in all places but only one time: now.

Matthew 2:13-23

This past Sunday was my fist Sunday at IMC. It was fun and interesting preaching in an open air chapel with the wind blowing. Trying to hold the Bible with the pages blowing is somewhat difficult. Fun though.

Looking at Matthew 2:13-23 I noticed a few things in my study of the passage and other resources. I noticed the last line about Jesus being from Nazareth. This is the most simple and logical explanation of the verse and it lifts up an important fact of the humanness of Christ. He lived in a real place, had a real home town and you can visit his hometown today. This is important because we can't have a dynamic interpersonal relationship with someone who didn't exist. Someone who didn't exist can't die on the cross for our salvation. In the Apostle's Creed we are specific, it is Jesus, "born of the Virgin Mary and suffered under Pontius Pilate". Jesus was and is a real person and therefore we can have a relationship with him. We can follow him as Teacher, Lord and Savior. We can speak to and hear from him, he can guide our lives and shape our hearts. He can be the dynamic living center of our individual and corporate lives. All of this comes from a real person. It is so central that the first Alpha talk is "Who is Jesus", which is a fine talk to get a deeper understanding of Jesus.

Also we see that Jesus is confronted with Sin early in his life. Herod is so power crazed that he would kill countless children rather than lose power some day. At this point in Jesus' life he is not in a place to confront "Sin, Death and the power of the Devil" head on. Yet later in his life this is exactly what he will do through his public ministry which culminates with his suffering, death and resurrection. through the resurrection Christ disarms the power of "Sin, Death and the Devil".

Yes, there is still suffering in the world but it does not have the last word, Christ does. While we wait for him to come again we know that he is present in our suffering. This is one reason it is so important that he is a real person. This real Jesus is present with us in our real pain bringing hope, strength and grace to any and all aspects of our lives.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gift of Love

Tonight I preach for the first time in our new setting. It is always interesting and different preaching in a new setting. While preaching at MLC I was preaching to friends and here I am preaching to people I don't really know. This is part of the adventure and learning that God has in this place.

I will be sharing tonight that the birth of Christ is really about God's gift of love. Christ is the clearest expression of God's love for us. We have made so much of religion and Christianity has so many expressions which sometimes agree and so often disagree. Yet at the heart of it all Christ is a gift of love for all people. This gift is so beautiful, wonderful and gracious.

Christ as the gift of love enables us to experience God's love in a real and profound way. We are given the gift of love so that we can love and live as a friend of mine said "more deeply in Love". We can live in love because Love has become incarnate in Christ and therefore our humanity is captured and clothed in this great love.

The gift of love enables us to have joy, peace, forgiveness, healing and grace. All of these flow as an expression of the gift of Christ. All that we ever really want can be found in Christ. The malls can't stock the things that we deeply want and need. These come as gifts from God through our Beloved Christ.

I feel that we should be like the shepherds who when hearing this good news left their fields and went to see the newborn Christ. Friends let us open our hearts and minds to a deeper relationship with Christ who is the gift of love.

Monday, December 20, 2010

More on Stuff

This island is by nature against consumerism. There are so few things to buy compared to the States. There are more things that I expected but not a lot. In the States we are used to having everything all the time and if we can't get it online shipping takes little or no time for an item to arrive. Here there is one grocery store and the refrigeration unit on the in-bound plane wasn't working so this week's shipment of dairy and fruits was not on the plane. That means we won't see any new items in that category until next week. The word got out and Kim along with many others "stocked up" for the week.

That notion is freaky to some who are living off island. We think that we need to have what we want or what we need all the time, we are used to it. On the island we learn or are forced to "fast" or make do with what is here. We learn or are forced to practice the discipline of abstinence. There are several disciplines of abstinence that Christians can practice to grow in their reliance on God. A discipline of abstinence is simply giving up something that we normally have. The best known example is not eating for a period of time. This is fasting in a classic sense. We fast in order to learn to rely on the strength God alone gives. Jesus fasted forty days before he was tempted to have the strength for such an intense temptation.

When we fast we can give up TV, music, food, facebook, texting or a host of things we think we need. Fasting shows our dependace on these things and it also frees our time for the Lord. If we miss a meal we have more time for prayer or study. If we are not online we are free to be with people in person or to journal and refelct on our life with God.

We just don't have a lot of stuff here and I am learning that for some residents that is fine, they have learned to adjust to less and having a more simple lifetyle. Others spend a lot of time shopping online and when they are on vacation they shop tons. I am hoping that as we live here we will learn to live with less and to be more creative in how we can spend our time and money. There are many lessons to be learned living here and I hope I am open and available enough to learn them.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


We are here and doing well so far. It is always challenging to move to a new place and to meet new people and learn new things. I am finding it an intense process to learn both place and job at the same time. I am working in a new environment (the DoD) and living on a small tropical island. Doing this is a humbling experience and since humility is a virtue and something the bible commands us to be I am finding myself thankful for the opportunity to grow.

Life should be about growing spiritually and I find that if we are open to God's movement in our lives there are always opportunities to grow and change. I guess this is why journaling is so important or for me this blog.

I am also finding being here a humbling experience. This is such a unique place to be let alone live and call one's home. There are so many things that are truly different about this place. Let me list a few

My commute to work is 3-4 minutes on my bike.

The children all come home for lunch, they ride their bikes home by themselves because it is safe here to do that.

The sea life is rich an abundant. We have seen sea turtles, nurse sharks, land crabs, birds and fish without getting in a boat or snorkeling.

There is one grocery store.

The chapel is open air.

We had fresh coconut last night.

Everyone rides bikes everywhere.

It is 85 every day.

This is such a hard place to describe but being here and wondering what I did to be able to deserve this is humbling because I did nothing to deserve this, it is a gift like all in life. All that we receive is a gift from the Lord, even in what we would consider the mundane. That is is why is it so important to practice gratefulness in our daily lives.

In the midst of our newness we miss the familiar. We miss the people at home, our family and friends. We miss the people at MLC. I think about how wonderful the Christmas music worship will be on the 19th. We miss our relationships and the process of moving here has taught us in such a powerful way how important relationships are how we should always strive to be people who love others and invest in their lives.

I will try to write more but we are still working through Internet access and I am being trained daily about how life is here since starting Tuesday (Monday in the states) I am on my own (not really since Christ is always with me).

Lots of love and peace.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


It is weird having my stuff on a boat, in storage and at our parent's house (thanks). It has made me think about our need for stuff. We need to have things, we always have had and probably always will. It is not having things that I have thought about it is what things to have that I have been thinking about.

We were given a weight limit to Kwajalein (which is small and you can go over but it costs money) and the restrictions on storage. It was a good exercise to go through all that we own and ask the question do we need this to be successful for the next few years. We found out that we have a lot of stuff that we either don't need for want and we realized again that certain things don't need to be ours (we can use the Kwajalein's warehouse) and certain things need to be ours(pots, pans, clothes, beds, couches). We also talked about how different people need different things (our children need the most).

It reminded me that we need to use things and that we can treasure things but we should guard against being attached to strongly to things. The old adage "It's only stuff" has a lot of wisdom. One of the dangers in a materialistic society like ours is that we can become enslaved by our stuff. In a very real way our stuff can own us and not us own our stuff. I am thankful for the reminder of the proper place for stuff.