Monday, January 31, 2011


We went to Ebeye yesterday with a woman from our church who has done a lot ministry there. Kim and the kids came with me, they had been before but it was nice to have them along and they got a chance to meet some new people.

Ebeye is one of the islands on our atoll which is where where the Marshallese people who work on Kwaj live. It takes about 25 minutes by boat to get there from here.

It is said to be one of the most densely populated places on Earth. There are roughly 12,000 people living on an island that is 1/2 mile by 1/2 mile. There are no high rises there, just simple plywood structures with some buildings made from concrete. We were told that over 50% of the island residents are under age 18 and most people are unemployed.

We visited a handful of the private Christian schools. The public schools are full and so there are private schools to help reach out to the children. It costs money to run a school and with so many people unemployed the schools need to be subsidized in order to operate. Some of the Christian schools have self funded missionaries who come from the US to serve as teachers for a year or two. There are a few churches in the US who help these schools as well as some of the Christan organizations on Kwaj help. It was fun touring the schools and meeting some of the kids. They all wear uniforms from the school they attend and have very simple classrooms.

We visited one school at recess and their playground is a simple dirt area. They made hopscotch lines and used pieces of coral instead of rocks. The teachers also organized running races and some of the boys played with the one football. It is different than in the US. I asked the vice principal of one of the schools we visited what the cost for tuition was and he said $40.00 a month, yet there are many who can't afford that monthly cost.

It is always eye opening to visit with people who live a very different lifestyle than the one you do. Ebeye is not a materially rich part of the word and it pulls on the compassionate part of one's soul to see so many children in need.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I think many people miss the heart of Matthew 5:1-12 which is simply God's blessing for all people through the coming of the kingdom. Recovering blessing is central to our understanding of the nature of God in Christ and for our life with each other. I read an article by one of my former preaching professors who "gets it".

Here is a link to an article he wrote..

Remember you are blessed.


People have asked for pics and I will try to make that happen. The connection at home is so slow that it would literally take all night to make a few photos happen. I'll try to see how to get some new photos on here...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Matthew 4:17

“From that time on Jesus began to preach ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near’”

Matthew 4:17 is perhaps the most important verse in the entire Bible because it is the announcement of the gentle rule and reign of God in Jesus. Something profoundly new is happening in Jesus. The kingdom of God is now available to all people through Jesus. God has always been king and will always be king. However, the availability of the direct rule and reign in an individual human life had never been available in this way until the coming of Jesus. The presence and power of God in our lives is available now through Christ. This is not something we earn; rather it is a gift of grace. Jesus made the kingdom available to all people who have faith or trust in him.

Notice the in the first part of Matthew 4:17 it says that “from that time on”. Jesus didn’t preach the availability of the kingdom once; it is something that he continued to preach. The kingdom of God is Jesus’ teaching. Without properly understanding the basic message of Jesus we will miss the heart of Jesus life and teaching. The kingdom of God is not something oppressive or harsh. The kingdom is based on love, mercy and forgiveness. Kingdom availability is not based on knowledge, power, status or wealth. Quite the opposite is true; the kingdom is available to all and all who live in the kingdom are blessed. In fact to live a blessed life is to live in the kingdom, under God’s gentle rule and reign .Those who live in the kingdom don’t live by their own power or resourcing, they are resourced by the king.

To repent is to rethink our lives in light of the fact that Jesus has made this kingdom available. Do we want to continue to live as we always have? Do we want to live with our own resources? Do we long for freedom, forgiveness, joy and mercy? Do we long to be loved and love? These are kingdom questions. Jesus has made the kingdom available to all. We simply turn to Christ and trust him. The rest of life is learning to live in the kingdom.


I went fishing a few days ago with a friend and one of his friends. I have never been deep sea fishing and it was really fun. The weather was nice so the waves weren't too bad. It is really beautiful on the ocean side. The water changes color from deep blue, to light blue and seems like all the shades in between as one gets closer to the reef.

Not only was it fun to be out on the water, we also caught fish! We caught seven Mahi, one Ono and two Aku. We had beer battered Ono with some friends on Tuesday, the day we went fishing and then we had fish tacos last night at home with marinated Mahi. Both tasted great.

On a different note, I am now an offical member of the Kwajalein Surf Club. We also surfed last weekend and it was fun, the waves were a little bigger and I got a chance for some better rides.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Household Goods

Our household goods were delivered yesterday! We are so thankful for the help we got in getting them delivered. We also have a renewed gratitude for the things we have.


John 1:35-42 Seeking

In the gospel lesson Jesus asks the disciples “what do you seek?” Some translations say “want”, others “looking for”, however the literal “seek” offers more insight into the brilliance of Jesus’ question. The reason is that wanting and seeking are different things. Wanting simply has to do with desire, it is like a Christmas or birthday list; there is little action or effort to attain the wants. Seeking on the other hand involves intention, will and action. When we are seeking something we are actively pursuing it. We are no longer passive.

There are many things that we as humans can seek: power, wealth, knowledge, degrees, peace, titles, relationships, security, stability etc….. The interesting thing about seeking is that what we are seeking usually begins to define how we understand ourselves. We often will use “I am” statements to reflect what we have sought. For example a person who is seeking a medical degree will say “I am a doctor” after they have passed all the necessary requirements. Our lives end up being built on what we seek. Seeking is the rudder that steers our lives.

Jesus’ asks John’s disciples “What do you seek?” He is asking them what they want to build their lives on. They simply ask him where he is staying and Jesus answers with a simple offer “come and see”. Jesus doesn’t ask them if they believe in him. He doesn’t want to see their credentials or resume. He simply invites them to spend time with him. This is great invitation that we are all offered. Through this narrative we are asked the simple and profound question “what are you seeking”. He also invites us to seek Him and therefore to seek God. He invites us to come as we are, regardless of our past and to spend time with him and to see where that will lead us.

Monday, January 10, 2011


I had a very cool experience yesterday. We found out about Kwaj from Kim's friend Ona. Her husband is a surfer and asked me if I was interested in learning to surf. I told him I was and he thought since I have very little experience in the ocean the best way is to spend a fair amount of time body boarding.

We went out yesterday for the first time for a sunrise float. It was pretty awesome. The waves are mello at this time of the year which is great for learning and while we were out we saw a pod of dolphins, cool fish along the reef and a full double rainbow. Not to mention we caught a few waves, I also missed a lot a waves :).

Living out here means missing family, friends and the familiarity of home but it also means doing things that I would never do otherwise and so I find myself thankful for the new experiences of life on Kwaj.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Obedience of the Heart

Obedience of the heart is yielding of our heart to Christ in prayer. The temptation in much of our prayer life is to start and end by telling God what we want. As I have written many times there is nothing wrong with intercessory prayer (it is good and necessary) yet we must not let our intercessions make the focus of our prayer life us. The focus of our prayer life is to be available to God through Christ. We can’t be available if we are self focused. There is a movement in prayer when we begin to be less concerned with getting from God and more concerned with giving to God. As we encounter the love of Christ we long to give ourselves to God and surrender our hearts to the Living God. When prayer becomes more about seeking God, longing for Christ and desiring to please the Lord we are on the path of obedience of the heart.

Obedience wakes up in the morning and echoes Christ’s words “into your hands I commend my spirit”. Before we begin our day it is yielded to Christ and the focus of the day is about tending to that inner surrender. We will forget as we go about the day yet when we remember we should come back to that place of surrender. This was the focus of Jesus’ life with the Father. He said repeatedly that he did his Father’s will. How did he know this will? He knew it because he spent time in prayer and his prayer that sought the Father’s will and not his own. In the most critical aspect of his life in the garden he prayed what his heart had prayed continually “not my will but thy will”.

Obedience of the heart is so critical because it the heart that shapes our life. What we value, how we spend our time, how we view ourselves and others are matters of the heart. When our obedience starts in the heart through prayer then it will begin to emanate out and seep into other aspects of our lives. This is not a single event in our lives but an ongoing process. I find that surrender to Christ in prayer is scary for some and intimidating for others. When we come to this place we must look to the cross. The One we are surrendering to is the One who gave his life so that we may have life. We can trust Christ. There is such joy and energy to a surrendered and obedient heart. The person who is obedient finds great freedom in this path. Jesus says that “whoever loses his life saves it”. True fulfillment and contentment come from obedience to Christ.

To learn obedience we must start where we are and how we can. The best is the simple prayer before getting out of bed which simply says “Lord, I give you myself and this day. Amen”. It is that simple and yet that profound. The key is to do it daily, and when we forget to not beat ourselves up, rather to just start again the next day. Tomorrow is a great day to start.

School Starting

Sophie started school today. It was weird having her ride home for lunch. I left a few mintues early to make sure I was home when she was home. She rode her bike just fine and our neighbor is in her class and it was great to have someone to go with. She will ride home again when school is over. It is so unique..

She is doing well, it is an adjustment since she was in such a good class and had some very good friendships in the class but we are thankful that her new teacher and classmates are very welcoming.

Matthew 3:13-15 Obedience Part One

Normally when I read this passage I think of Jesus and his preparation for baptism and think little of John the Baptist. John has been preaching a baptism of repetance for the forgiveness of sins and many have come and been baptized in the Jordan river. Then one day the one he has been telling people to get ready for shows up and requests baptism. There is only one problem with that, Jesus has no need for reptentance, he has never sinned.

John refuses and says that it should be the other way around and he is right, Jesus should be the one baptize John. Jesus however says that it must be John who baptizes him. Then the key section for me "Then he (John) consented" Matthew 3:15b. Not until this week and with some inspiration from had I seen John's consent as a matter of simple obedience to Christ.

I have never thought of John as someone who models obedience but he does and his modeling encourages us to think about our own obdience. That word is a hard word for independent minded American people. We are the self made generation who is shaping the world and we are going to do what we want, when we want and little if any is our fault.

We naturally shun obedience as an oppressive yoke and undoubtedly it has been used that way by some. However what we are looking at is John's obedience to Christ and therfore our obedience to Christ.

In the next post I will examine obedience is greater detail.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Some thoughts from Sunday

Last Sunday I was preaching on John 1:1-18. There is so much in the text and the most obvious is the divinity of Jesus. I spent some time on that but I also noticed in the text the use of the word light, it is used frequently in the first several verses.

What came to mind was the connection between light and truth. Light reveals things as they are and therefore allowing one to see something that they wouldn't see in the dark. It is the reason we have indoor and outdoor lighting, so that we can see. The connection that was made for me was that the light reveals the truth and allows us to build our lives on what is true.

In a small community like ours there are lots of rumors which can breed fear and anxiety. There is a temptation to react and build our lives on rumors and half truths. This can happen in other places as well, fear can grip our hearts and drive our lives. Both civilian congregations I have severed have struggled with fear around finances. I don't how many hours I have spent in meetings that fear is motivator. Common sense should be used but not fear.

The light of Christ breaks into our fear with perfect love. We are told that "perfect love casts out fear". The only one who loves perfectly is God and since Jesus is God we have perfect love from Christ. As we grow in our relationship with Christ, his perfect love gently begins to cast out our fear and replace it with the "peace that passes all understanding". This is what it means to live in the light.

We must root our lives in the truth that Jesus is God and that he has both the will and the power to work for our good, he has shown that in the cross and resurrection. We need not be run by fear.

Prayer enables us to be in the light since we enc outer Christ is prayer and Christ is the light. This should underscore and highlight the importance of prayer in our lives as a pathway to both encounter Christ and to base on lives on the truth and not on what is false. This is the path of life. If you look again at the verses in John you will see that "in him was life".

Jesus brings life in all its fullness and this life comes to us as a gift of grace.


Some have wondered how I am feeling now that I live in the tropics. I am doing okay, I still don't feel like I want but I have only been here a few weeks and that is to be expected. One of the things that is tough for us is that our beds aren't due until next week and the beds we have aren't great.

I really haven't been sleeping all that well in my borrowed bed and I think that once I can start getting regular sleep in my bed I will feel better. That being said I have more time to workout and I know that exercise is good for my health as well as every one's health. I have been putting up better numbers in terms of frequency and distance of both my runs and swims so I am encouraged by that. I have lost a little weight which I have wanted to do and so that is good too.

It is hot here but the heat doesn't seem to impact me more than anyone else here. Actually it feels good most of the time and when we are tire of it the house is cool, we often will wear sweatshirts or long sleeves inside since our bodies are adjusting to the heat.

Overall I am not where I want to be but I am definitely not worse off and I think that I am doing a little better and hopeful for improvement.