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February 2008

January 2008

Running Reflections

"It is easy to turn our religious life into a cathedral for beautiful memories, but there are feet to be washed, hard flints to be walked over, people to be fed. Very few of us go there, but that is the way the Son of God went."

                                    .--Oswald Chambers, Run Today's Race, January 6
Reflections by Ryan:
What constitutes your religious life?  Is it realized in church gatherings, devotional books, Bible studies, camps, retreats, prayer seminars, Christian events, teen group……the church softball team?  Is it focused upon that one great service, that really special prayer time or the time that you really "felt" God?  Do you think more about the good old days of church than you do about the adventure of today that awaits you in Jesus Christ? 

Has your burning heart of relationship with Jesus been replaced by the warm fuzzy memory of a beautiful service?
God is not a memory, a feeling or an event and He does not reside in the brick and mortar of stained glass cathedrals.  God is the living and active one who in mystery creates, forgives, empowers, guides, and loves--and He resides within the human heart.  In Him, our religious lives are not to be realized in memory but rather in movement.  God is love and grace in action.  He is a God who is constantly reaching out to His children—lovingly drawing them unto Himself. 

Jesus, the Son of God came and lived among us.  He washed feet, touched lepers, loved the unlovely and fed the multitudes.  He died upon the cross for our sins and rose from the dead.  Jesus went to heaven to prepare a place for us and he sent the Holy Spirit to fill us with power so we might live in His name.
The words of 1 John 2:6 say it pretty clearly, "Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did."
Let the momentum of God move you beyond the memories of the cathedral and into the world of people who need a Savior.

Run Today’s Race: A Word from Oswald Chambers for Every Day of the Year. Copyright © 1968 Oswald Chambers Publications Association Ltd.
Scripture: NIV

Folgers Moment

Folgers Lately I have been drinking Folgers instant coffee.  Why?  I don’t know why.  We have a jar of Folgers instant coffee in our teacher workroom and one day I made myself a little cup of Folgers instant coffee.  Folgers instant coffee is pretty good.  So now I am drinking Folgers.

Now when I say a little cup of Folgers I mean a little cup.  Here in South Korea they don’t go for drinking out of small buckets like we do in the USA.  They drink water, coffee, tea and juice out of small cups and usually the cups are only filled half full of liquid.  So, lately I have been drinking small cups of Folgers instant coffee.  But I fill the cup to the top.Cup_of_coffee

Why am I drinking Folgers instant coffee?  Is it because of the way the granules dissolve so quickly in hot water?  Is it because of the white foam that forms on the top of the steaming cup of java?  Is it because it is instant?

My granddad used to drink Folgers instant coffee and every time I make myself a cup of Folgers instant coffee I think about my granddad and the fun I used to have as kid working with him on the farm.  Good memories.  Maybe that is why I am drinking Folgers instant coffee.  Because every time I mix up a small, but full cup of Folgers, I have a “Folgers Moment.”

“Folgers Moments” are good.

Any Folgers drinkers out there?

Cling and Keep

I have been reading through the book of I Timothy this week.  I am taking a long, slow look at Paul’s words to his treasured friend.  Paul wants his friend Timothy to grow in relationship with God and he is very clearly speaking into Timothy’s life in a formational way.

Good friends do that—they lovingly talk straight to your heart.

Hey friend, take a look at Paul’s words to Timothy:

“Timothy, my son, here are my instructions for you . . .  May they help you fight well in the Lord’s battles.  Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear."

                                                .--1 Timothy 1: 18-19 (NLT)

Please go back and read those verses again—slowly.

Put your name in the place of Timothy’s name.  God speaks to us through His word.  Let the inspired words of Paul guide you in your journey with Jesus.  His instructions are for you (and me) and they are to help us fight well in the battles of life.  You know all about the battles don’t you?  But look, the battles are not yours—they are the Lord’s.  Let Him have them.

Cling?  What does that mean? 

To cling is to hold on to something in a “dependent” manner-- “tightly,” “tenaciously” and “firmly.”  Are you clinging to Jesus?  Paul tells us to grab hold and hang on.  In the same breath he exhorts us to keep a clear conscience.  We must keep our hearts, minds and actions pure before God.  We can’t grasp the robe of Jesus with one hand—hold pride, guilt and anger in the other hand and expect to cling to the Lord.  The battles of life rage too fiercely at times.  We must put all aside and hold tightly to Jesus.

Paul loved Timothy enough to talk straight to his heart and God directs those same words directly towards our hearts.  God wants us to heed his instructions, cling to our faith in Jesus and keep our hearts and minds clear before Him.  The battle is the Lord’s and the strength to fight is found only in Him. 

Where do we begin? 

Paul gives us the answer in I Timothy 2:1,

“I urge you, first of all, to pray. . .”

The Smoking Section

"Someone once said: "If you want to save the world, you have to sit in the smoking section." I love that. That means you're going to breathe a lot of second hand smoke, and you may die early. So what? What are we here for anyway?"                                                        .--John Fischer

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."                                                                     .--Jim Elliot

Sorry, I don't have much time for blogging lately but I will post a couple of quotes that I like.  What do you think of these two quotes?  Do you see a congruence or a disconnect in their messages?  I would love to hear from you.

IB Symposium

50logo_2 This past weekend our school, Taejon Christian International School, hosted an International Symposium on "Teaching IB in the Christian School."  It was a grand event.  The conference attendees were from around the world--Korea, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, USA, India and Kenya, Africa.  The presentations and discussions regarding the mission and focus of being a Christian school within an international context were amazing.

Actually, it was the people that were amazing.  It was a rare and treasured opportunity to meet and share with people from all over the world.  Each school that made a presentation at the conference had a unique history and a fascinating story.  The richness of the event and the interaction with the people from the various countries and cultures is something that is hard to put into words.....very inspirational!Dscf2130

At the conference I had the special privilege of meeting a gentleman named Sam Fleischmann.  Sam works as the school counselor at the International Community School in Singapore and Sam is a recent graduate of my alma mater, Northwest Nazarene University.  It was such a pleasure to visit with Sam within this context, share our stories of God's goodness in our lives and talk of special people that we both know from our NNU connection.

If you are interested, here are some of the websites of some of the schools that were in attendance at the conference.  Click on the name of the school.

Kodaikanal International School, India

International Community School, Singapore

Sekolah Pelita Harapan, Indonesia

St. Paul's Grammar School, Penrith, Australia


New Class--John Wesley

Help me, Lord, to remember that faith is not to be confined to the church or closet, nor exercised only in prayer and meditation, but that everywhere I am in your presence. So may my every word and action have moral content.
.— Susanna Wesley

Just a note to say that I am currently enrolled in another on-line class and I am loving it.  The class is, “Wesleyan Tradition in Context.”  Thus far in the class we are looking at the life, theology and ministry of John Wesley, an Anglican minister and Christian theologian who lived during the 1700’s.Wesley1

Wesley is a fascinating man of God who lived a life of holiness that was realized in his love for the Lord and his love for others.

The above quote is from his mother, Susanna Wesley, who had a profound effect on his life, character and faith.

The following are some of my favorite John Wesley quotes:

“Every one, though born of God in an instant, yet undoubtedly grows by slow degrees”

"Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can”

"Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, to all the souls you can, in every place you can, at all the times you can, with all the zeal you can, as long as ever you can”

"The Bible knows nothing of solitary religion.”

If you would like to learn more about John Wesley and Wesleyan Theology please take a look at this link.

Eugene and Me--praying together

I do not want to be a religious bookkeeper, Lord, but a faith explorer, ready to take risks without counting the cost, ready to love without taking out insurance against suffering, ready to plunge into obedience without calculating my rewards. Amen.
.— Eugene H. Peterson

Me too. Amen.
.—Ryan Roberts

His Hands

O God, please help the hungry, the sick, the lonely, the addicted, the discouraged, the unlovely, the orphan, the widow, the lost, the poor……..

“God's method is a person.”
.--E. Stanley Jones

Have you ever stopped to think that maybe that “person” is….you?

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
                                       .--Matthew 25:37-40 (NIV)

Running Reflection--January 5

Run Today’s Race
A Word from Oswald Chambers for Every Day of the Year
Copyright © 1968 Oswald Chambers Publications Association Ltd.
Scripture NIV

January 5
"Faith for my deliverance is not faith in God. Faith means, whether I am visibly delivered or not, I will stick to my belief that God is love. There are some things only learned in a fiery furnace." 

Reflections by Ryan:

In the year 1949 the Christian missionary, Jim Elliot, penned the words, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”  Just over six years later he died a martyr’s death.  He and four other missionaries were killed by tribal warriors while attempting to evangelize the Huaorani people in Ecuador, South America.

Not every story in life turns out “happily ever after.”  You know it, I know it and God knows it.  That is why he sent his son, Jesus, to show us his love, to die upon the cross for our sins and to rise from the grave on the third day.

We are all about results; He is all about relationship.  We are all about contracts; He is all about covenant.  We want assurance of a God we can trust in all matters; He wants us to trust in Him--no matter what. 

In Daniel chapter 3 we find Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego with their feet to the fire because they won’t bow down and worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s golden statue.  Nebuchadnezzar threatened them with death and this was their response:

"O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."

It is an amazing account—the king throws them into the fiery furnace and when he looks in to gloat over their charred remains he can’t believe his eyes.  Instead of being dead, the three guys are very much alive and they are not alone!  God is with them! 

Please notice one thing—they ended up in the fire. 

You and I will find ourselves in the fire some day.  Maybe you are there now.  Faith in God is not realized in avoidance of the fire.  Faith in God is not realized in a way out of the fire.  Faith in God and God’s faithfulness to us are realized in the midst of the fire.

Jim Elliot’s wife and the wives of the other four missionaries stayed in Ecuador, South America and lovingly held out the message of the Gospel to the very tribe that killed their husbands.  Now, fifty years after the massacre of the five missionaries the entire Huaorani tribe are followers of Jesus Christ.  In faith, the missionary widows stepped into the fiery furnace.  Regardless of the outcome, they chose to live for Jesus.  In the place of unlikely rescue they encountered the faithful Deliverer.  No foolin.

Running Reflection--January 4

Run Today’s Race
A Word from Oswald Chambers for Every Day of the Year
Copyright © 1968 Oswald Chambers Publications Association Ltd.
Scripture NIV

January 4

"It is a great moment when we realize we have the power to trample on certain moods, a tremendous emancipation to get rid of every kind of self-consciousness and heed one thing only: the relationship between God and myself."

Reflections by Ryan:

In Oswald’s word for the day he uses the phrase, “tremendous emancipation.”  When I hear the word “emancipation” my mind goes to its antithesis, “slavery.”  There are very few things in this world worse than slavery.   A slave is one who is bound against their will (oftentimes by chains), who is controlled by someone or something else, and whose life is characterized as one of drudgery, toil and hopelessness.

I understand slavery better than I understand emancipation—don’t you?  Thankfully, I have never been a “slave” in the literal sense of the word but I have been a slave in the figurative sense.  Even figuratively, slavery is horrible.

I have been a slave to the most subtle, yet insidious master imaginable.  I have been a slave to . . . myself.  I shudder when I think about my critical attitudes, my laziness, my apathy, my judgmental spirit, my impatience, my worries, my justified irritability, and my anger.  The chains of pride hang heavy on my wrists and the shackles of selfishness and self-centeredness bind my legs and limit my movement towards others and towards God.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  I can be free and so can you.  Emancipation is found in Jesus Christ!

When Jesus, the Son of God, came to redeem us he said,

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
   because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
                                               .--Luke 4:18-19

The Apostle Paul reminds us that when we turn to the Lord we are given His Spirit and freedom.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
                                               .--2 Corinthians 3:17

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
                                                .--Galatians 5:1

Jesus died on the cross for our sins and He rose from the grave on the third day.  Jesus holds the keys to life. Submit yourself to Him.  Let him unlock the door, escort you out of your dark prison cell and release you from your bonds so that you can enjoy the “tremendous emancipation” of relationship with Him.