Sunday, February 28, 2010

......And that's bout' right.

Today I was relaxing abit this morning when I received an email from Tara Holdaway at Laidlaw telling me that my visa-application had just been processed by the school and I could attend classes TODAY and not TOMORROW! After watching a heartbreaking hockey game I went to school, enrolled then made it to my class 20 minutes late. What an incredible ride this has been! At no point has this been conventional. I was praying as the Immigration Office of NZ had not received the paperwork to allow me to come through a post-office mix up. The government is open only Monday-Friday so I figured my agent would get the info Mid-day (Today, Monday) at best then work on the process so I would miss one day of School. Again I have been blown away as I didn't even end up missing a class at school- period. My visa was processed at Laidlaw and I hurried down the hall to join my Theology class in session. University has begun. What a non-stop action ride this has been. At this point I would expect nothing less- If a dove descended from the heavons with my visa papers in its beak I probably wouldn't have missed a beat this morning. Extrodinary has become normal , my faith has increased and I can't wait to see what the future holds.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

24 Years.

Thanks all for the Birthday wishes. 23 might have been the best year of my life with an explosion of growth. As I look back over the years I see Gods hand everywhere- everything is coming together.

There where times just after Highschool where I very literally could have died. A truck accident where the truck flipped over, all the windows where gone, tires missing and when I came out from briefly blacking out a split second my head was resting up against a tree- as the truck was left in shambles I and a friend walked away nearly untouched. At another time as I was pushing the limits of stupidity on a motorcycle, I lost control around a corner and flew into the opposing lane as a truck swerved to miss me. I knew that life could be over instantly with just these few examples I have shown, yet the Lord spared me with His infinite grace. A dear friend of mine died in a wreck right after high-school and I just assume that that could have very well easily have been me. I believe these encounters and the experience of loss have enabled me to live with a more abundant joy as I have experienced greater mercy.

Just for a second lets remember how hopeless/ignorant and lost we where before God sovereignly intervened in our lives. For me and so many others that is impossible as we are just "good church folk" brought up in Church and saved at a young age. I would ask the crowd I'm apart of then to just ponder the realities of life without Christ for a moment. Devastating. I grew up hearing about Christ and even as young as 3-4 shared passionately about Gods saving grace with neighbors. I always knew that I was saved "From" hell , death and certain destruction but I never comprehended that I was saved "To" Gods incredible plan and continuing story of redemption since the Cross of Christ. At 21 I learned that repentance was a state of the heart , not curbing outward actions to meet a "religious model" of what a "good Christian" is. "Hey I don't swear to much and I attend church on Sunday without fail, I help out with my elderly neighbors and I don't commit any big sins- thats a strong faith right?." That is how I gauged my walk with the Lord for so long , sadly the "saved to" part didn't kick in until I was broken and alone in my dingy Guatemalan apartment when Gods love broke through. I would like to describe myself as a normal kid to that point when something exploded inside of my heart. Being "Saved to" Gods plan of redemption is much more joyous than "hey I swear less now and gave up smoking," the saving nature of the gospel encompasses so much more than changes on the outside but the transformation of the heart only possible through the cross. That is the gospel.

As I listened to a sermon this week about predestination the speaker brought up something that I couldn't shake. The idea that God knew me before I was born, knew all the sins I have committed and have yet to get around to- and that He still loves me , that means something incredible. That means He loves me NOW! Not the future version of David Piper (... the one post Bible College blah blah blah etc) , He loves us NOW. I also tried wrapping my head around the idea that "maybe I wasn't saved at 2 , but instead 21?" but all I can do I is rest in Gods sovereignty as that is neither here nor there now. He who began a good work in me will see it through until the day it is complete. He loved me at 15 when I was sneaking out of my parents house, He loved me at 23 when I was bringing food to a homeless shelter. There are plenty of other parallels but God loving me then is more grace than I would even allow myself as who Iam now hates who I have been. He loves you NOW. Wow. Not the future you... you NOW. That is so humbling and destroys any potential pride as its only by His grace that we are still here. Joy comes only through obedience as a product of a truly repentant heart; a heart that knows death is deserved but has been given life. I can't imagine life any other way now. Let us be encouraged in our faith!

Ephesians 2:8
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, lest any man should boast."

It's when we fail to forget the grace that was shown us that we begin to simply curb our outward actions, forgetting that we have been spared (when we deserved death) to bring Him glory and seek His plan.

I love Psalm 119. For 174 verses the Psalter sings of Gods praises of justice and mercy. He speaks of loving Gods statues as he wakes at midnight to ponder Gods righteous law. At verse 175-176 though he concludes with a different tone:

Let me live that I may praise you,
and may your laws sustain me.

I have strayed like a lost sheep.
Seek your servant,
for I have not forgotten your commands.

Thank you God for not destroying me , even as I turn away. That verse gets me amped as it reflects a truly repentant, humble heart. Don't wait until its your Birthday to thank God for sparing you and that He will use us if we are humble and willing - do so now! Joy awaits! Amen.

Thank you God for these 24 years.

Your Servant,


Life Update!

1. Accepted to Laidlaw Bible College
2. Had to stop volunteering and start making money, God provided a job with the federal government where I made big $$$ for two months.
3. Paid for 1 semester of school.
4. Didn't have the money to even fly to NZ one week before departure date / money donated out of nowhere allowed me to purchase my ticket 6 days before I left, at this point I had $30 to my name.
5. Sold my car two days before departure to a man that had been "interested" for a month that kept calling me but never had the money (frustration!)
6. At DCC's going away party for me I was touched beyond words as $1700+ was donated.
7. I arrived in Fiji to find out my plan of doing an apostolic mission trip with Sean Saffold was off as he couldn't make it... "what now God?"
8. Second day in Fiji , a Kiwi couple meets me and decides that I'm not an "axe murderer" and lets me know they have a room available and are looking for a roomate. "Magically" all of our "vacations" in Fiji ended at the same time and when I arrived Sunday afternoon to NZ It was a matter of hours before their flight came in and I was on my way to my new home.
9. A few days later I approached the church directly across the street with questions about small groups etc and how I could get plugged in via email as the front office was closed. I was very much suprised to get an email back from the pastor instead of secretary. This started the one month journey of prayfully considering a job as JH/HS Youth lead at Avondale Baptist Church. After interview after interview and a background check I'm now apart of the ministry team. I was told they had been praying nearly a year for someone to fill the spot.
10. Immigration contacted me about my lack of funds required to obtain a student visa- the NZ Gov posed one final option to me after me writing a heartfelt letter explaining circumstances: "Get a NZ citizen to sponsor you" . I found a family through church that was more than willing to help me in this process, they agreed to the NZ Govs stipulations of being financially responsible to me if everything fell through. My visa is now a reality! Its currently in the mail and I start school tomorrow (Firday). I can't start going to classes until I physically have the passport back from the mail so PRAY that I get it before Mondays lectures start when they will not allow me to attend without it. God has blown open every obstacle to this point and I'm not going to start worrying now. My faith has blown up! I mean seriously, I meet random people in Fiji that brought me to a church that would help pave the way for me to go to school and had been looking for a youth leader for a year? God is toooo good to me. All of these dreams where realized because God didn't allow Sean and mines plan to work out, there is no way I would have got my visa without the permenant address I provided in NZ and the family I met to back me. Gods plans are far superior to mine!

The Future Plans!

1. Attend Laidlaw for one semester. Ministry at Avondale Baptist will allow me to essentially eat and sleep , but not actually get ahead financially to pay for next semester.
2. At sememster end I will apply and obtain (they are easy to get I hear) a one year working visa and live and work in NZ.
3. I will work for one semester then start school up again in Feb of 2011 if bags of money don't fall from the sky
4.Simultaneously at 6 months I will apply for my permenant residency which will be a challenge to get, but if I do (you apply at 6 month mark then you have to wait another 6 months until they get to your claim- thats how it works) get my residency ... school fees will go down substantially.

God has blessed me this far , and to worry about the future would be sinful after His display of power getting me here. Im now living in Auckland and attending Laidlaw Bible College- sweet.

Im sorry if your still here reading this, I should have just written a book on this post : )

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Thats about all I can say right now. I was working for a family of ABC Church pulling weeds today and on my lunch break I biked home and checked my email. The same family I was working for emailed me and (The Quirkes) have agreed to sponsor me through my study here , allowing me to get a student visa! As I received that email, I checked the snail mail and the forms from the NZ Gov arrived in the mail. I promptly took the forms back to the house just completely excited for how this has all worked out. They where not at home at the time but I've never been so happy to pull weeds. Never a dull moment here down under.


For the visa to come quickly! Lectures start soon and I can't until the visa comes in. Pray that the government is speedy (a miracle in itself)

For God to reveal Himself to me as I develop a model for the Junior High and High School program I'm taking over. I want to point the students to Christ using what I've learned over the last 2 years. I want these Kiwi students to see Him in a real way.

It's amazing to see where God has taken me. Wild. None of these things where in my plans for coming here. When Sean was unable to come and I was here a month early it was for my benefit. I've always wanted that "weekend alone with God" and that became a month. This is the most I've ever gotten into the word and studied. The whole thing is amazing. WOW says it all.


Monday, February 15, 2010

The Call.... (from the Government)


Today Laura Cannon from Immigration New Zealand called my house and spoke to me. This is the first update I have had in the last 11 days. She was impressed with the letter I sent and my honesty about the situation and she said she was honored that I had considered NZ the place to study. She shared with me that they couldn't approve me as of yet with my lack of funds (6000$ NZD for 6 months , I have under half) but if I could find a NZ citizen to sponsor me, not monetarily but just as an insurance policy for the government that my visa would be granted. It's like a co-signer for a loan. PRAY FOR A SPONSOR! I will share this with the Pastor on Wednesday and will ask my roomates what they think. Laura is mailing the forms today and they will be here in 2 days or so. She said on its return they would process it ASAP so that studies this semester will be possible. Praise God, its all in His timing.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


I'm excited to share with you but as of about a few minutes ago I have accepted the position of Youth Lead at Avondale Baptist Church, thank you all for your prayers!! On Wednesday I will go over the job outline with Pastor Willem and work on developing a ministry model/vision for the youth in the church. Please continue to pray for me!

Quick re-cap of awesomness/miracles

*I was provided a job 3 months before leaving at the Elwha Dam that provided for my first semester school expenses
*A big donation was given one week before I left that allowed me to buy my plane ticket for NZ
*2 days before departure my Mercedes that the Lopes gave me sold. I had been trying to sell it for a month, getting led on by various people interested and almost giving up hope. This gave me the money I needed to at least pay rent for a month and eat.
*1 day before I left nearly 2 grand was donated through various families at DCC to whom I'm completely grateful and thankful!
*1 day after being in Fiji I found out the evangelistic trip on bikes fell through as Sean didn't have the funds to come.
*2 days after my arrival I was offered a place to live in Auckland near the school which helped me greatly. My roomates where so hospitible and helped me with filling out the visa and taking me on important errands to get set up in NZ. They are a godsend.
*1 week into my arrival at Auckland , the local church had essentially asked me to consider working with them- they had been praying for a leader, I showed up- and It just so happened "coincidentally" that I moved next store, being able to see the church from my back yard.
*4 days ago a free car was offered to me .
*A little over a month later, I'm now getting plugged into the ministry here.

-God is so good.

Keep praying for my visa situation, that will be a miracle. All roads/doors have been opened I'm confident in Gods plans. Ain't life sweet? Happy Valentines Day America! (ours was yesterday as I live in "the future")


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Be my Valentine.

That title has nothing to do with anything, I just felt like typing it : )

Please pray for me today as I have been formerly offered the job as Youth Leader at Avondale Baptist Church in Auckland this morning. I have asked for a day to pray about it and seek Gods will and direction. I'm laying it at his feet.

There is also a possibility that a car could be given to me and it's so cool to see Gods provision. I sat in today with the JH at church and I really loved the energy in the room and the 12 students in attendance. The future is bright.

Nothing new on the visa end- your prayers are HUGELY appreciated.

Matt Chandlers sermon "The Dark Exchange" resonated with my soul this week , the gist of his sermon was (from a quote in it) "It's always easier to create your own god than bow to the real one." It seemed a timely message as I have nearly finished the history lesson that is Joshua through Esther. God destroys the wicked (to the 4th generation, watch out great great grandkids! ok thats OT relax haha) as they harden their hearts and choose to follow their own plans that lead to destruction. As downright boring as 1st Chronicles and 2nd are it sets the stage to shine a beautiful light of redemption down during Ezra/Nehemiah (specifically Nehemiah) . The Israelites gave up the captivity and bondage in their hearts from serving false idols and turned their collective passion back over to the lord. They previously where in physical captivity to the Egyptians but thats arguably better than being in spiritual captivity to the things of this world. When they repented, He blessed them mightily. Solomon says: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge but fools despise wisdom and instruction. We can laugh about how silly it is to serve Golden Cows , but I know the downright foolishness that my heart can posses outside of being in Gods will so these books , specifically Nemehiah, have reminded me to not let history repeat itself.

God is so good and faithful , thank you for your thoughts,prayers and emails. Have a spirit filled, amazing Valentines day. You are loved even if you can't see it or feel it right now from a physical source!


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Aotereoa photos.

Quick links to my photos thus far in NZ! Enjoy both the albums-

Saturday, February 6, 2010

What a week, I've been gone over a month....

This last week has been an incredible time of God just blowing me away through scripture and sermons.

I realized that evangelism/missions etc has more to with me than the salvation of others. Woah. I'm in complete awe of how God molds and shapes for His namesake to be glorified alone. How humbling this is- the "Fear and trembling" part has kicked into high gear...... check out Matt Chandlers sermon "Does God ...have two wills?" The link is posted below , it might open your eyes a little wider.
Open that page and then click on "Does God have 2 wills."

I wish I could show you all that has been spoken to me, but It probably wouldn't impact you the way it did for me so you will just have to take my word for it : ) I have this deep craving to study Theology.

The day after I arrived home from the Parachute Festival I opened the letter from the NZ government I received while in Hamilton for a week. All in my visa was going well- the only thing they needed was a simple "updated bank statement history". Lots of prayer has gone into this as I don't meet NZ requirements of money in the bank to study for the allotted time. I wrote a letter to the gov outlining my plan and I'm praying my immigration officer has a soft heart. I'm not exactly sure what the future would look like if it didn't work out. Gods taken care of me every step of the way and I know all will work out whatever happens. He has taught me so much through all of this, I have been changed.

A neat development has occurred that I did not want to write about pre-maturely but Avondale Baptist Church has been pursuing me to be the potential junior high lead for some weeks and I have been praying about the situation with much passion, asking the lord for discernment. I had another meeting with the Pastor Willem earlier this week as I shared with him that I'm interested in pursuing this, so I took a step forward and put myself out there. The lord has not said "No" , so I will move forward slowly with my hearts desire for the spirit to confirm. Today I was questioned by 2 of the elders and the pastor in a more formal setting meeting than previously experienced about my life/ministry model etc. It was a good time of sharing and I voiced some of my concerns about a doctrinal stance in the church. I will continue to move forward slowly and would appreciate your prayers in this area.

After the meeting, Martin and I biked into downtown Auckland and played bike-polo under the shadow of the Sky Needle with a few others... AWESOME... and now my legs are killing me. What a beautiful day. This next week Im looking at going out for a hiking trip in Waitakere to jump off one of the legendary waterfalls and get lost in the woods with my Bible.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Singin in the Rain!


What an amazing , incredible weekend in Hamilton. From Friday-Monday I got to experience God at Parachute Music Festival with 20,000 brothers and sisters- the largest Christian music festival in the country. Among some of the talent there my highlights where Switchfoot , Leeland and Hillsong United. Family Force Five played the most entertaining live musical set I have ever seen but at the end of the day it was entertainment and worshipping with Hillsong is still what resonates with my soul.

I left Wednesday of last week to Josh Best's flat (my friend from Port Angeles) and then we went with our friend Rebecca to her parents house in Hamilton where the event was being held on Thursday. Josh and I then camped out with members of Tabernacle Baptist Church based in central Auckland for the next few nights until the campsite got rained out and we decided to sleep in real beds at Beccas house. The first 2 days it was hovering around 90 degrees and shade was a fleeting memory (I used so much sunscreen it would have made my mother proud). Everynight Josh and I arrived to the mainstage to see the headliners where we stayed in the front row after fighting our way through hordes of teenage girls and other charachters that didn't believe in the power of deodorant. Josh and I (I can say this humbly because it was true) exuded so much energy up front that we where constantly being photographed and filmed. By the end of the week security knew us well as we would get big highfives and bro hugs from them.

It wasn't just the high energy stage performances that captured my attention but the stories and testimonies of speakers like Mike Pilavachi from the UK speaking openly about their experience with youth work. It really gripped my heart. After one of the seminars at "the Dome" (there where 6 stages total with music+speakers going all day long with the headliners performing on the mainstage from 5-11+pm nightly) I had the chance to talk with Mike briefly after he described his early on ministry failures with junior highers. It really spoke to me directly one of those "I wish I would have heard that before...." sermons. Gods timing though. What I took away from it though has changed my ministry focus for youth work for the better and has excited a new passion in me to reach the next gen. On Saturday the rain came.... and did not stop. I have never seen rain like this before. The rain was soon accompanied by Thunder and lightning and I was pretty sure our tent city was just going to float away Noah style and we would all land on some mountain in Turkey.

What I didn't realize was that rain was going to set up as the backdrop for one of the most powerful nights of worship I have ever experienced in my lifetime. If you have not heard of Hillsong United or have but have not heard their song "Hosanna" you need to stop reading this, turn up your speakers and click on this link before you continue on.

What occured was beyond comprehension but I will do my best to put words to it. Imagine worshipping at the top of your lungs to one of the most beautiful love songs ever written in the pouring rain with your hands in the air in complete surrender. The water hits your face as you look upward- then you realize that it's only a mere glimpse of what eternity will be like. As 20,000 people are fully alive in worship the thunder rolls and lightning brings the sky to life. Overcome with joy, tears mix with the rain. Amen.

Thank you to everyone who has been praying, my heart is being broken and changed to where it needs to be. Some really sweet times with God this week, one being this morning as I recapped the week and read through Samuel. "How sweet it is to be loved by you." It's going to take a miracle for my visa situation to come through and Im confident that whatever happens will be from God. Keep praying or "my" plans could be changing rapidly. I just finished a 13 week sermon series in Ecclesiastes by Matt Chandler (I started it two weeks ago) today and it was quite riveting. Bottom line , "Love God with all your heart because you will be dead soon and nothing else matters under the sun." The Series is called "Beyond the Sun" and is available for free download and has been a huge encouragement to me. If you don't have the time for the whole series be sure to listen to Coffee with Granddad part 1&2 as Pastor Matt Chandler portrays Solomon at the end of his life as a grandfather overflowing with wisdom having coffee with us , his "grandchildren." Very well done. During my morning devotions 1 Samuel c15 v22 impacted me as a brilliant life lesson on submission to God, what it means to you I don't know(read the chapter for context) but "To obey is better than sacrafice" spoke to me loud and clear about Gods supreme will to be sought after above all else. Often God commands us to do something but in our rebellion or fear (fear can be rebellion aswell) we say in our hearts , "God , I simply can't do that small thing you have asked me to do, but I will quit doing such and such activity that I shouldn't be doing, are you happy now?" In other words God calls us to something Great and we say "nope God I think im going to go do this good thing at a million miles an hour until I burn out because I think you would be more pleased by it...." We feel the rate or speed and vigor that we put into our activities is what impresses God when its the heart that matters. Will I simply obey?

As always I'm greatly encouraged by your prayers and emails.


Above: Josh Best and I rocking out to Rapture Ruckus, look directly above the security guards wearing a shirt with popcorn on it. (NZ's biggest Christian artist)