Good morning blog, it’s been a long time. Since my last entry, the visa jitters and excitement around that event have settled. Prior to my student visa (which was a miracle, check the blog before this one if you don’t know what I’m referring to. It’s unbelievable.) I found it difficult to study for classes that I told I would be unable to attend, there was a lot on my mind. After the visa came, I was on this buzz that compelled me to make God famous for how he had moved in my life. In some regards, this trumped study, again making it hard to sit down and write essays and memorize Greek. March was full on as I weekly hosted friends from around the globe in
Auckland. Notable visitors included Sebastian and Connie from Chile that I had met in the vineyard on the South Island as well as Tiffany Manning coming home from Papua New Guinea with malaria after serving with New Tribes Missions. It was truly a beautiful month if not completely exhausting.
The dust has settled and now I’m into the routine of the semester.
I’m currently on the tail end of the two week Easter Break that has allowed me to catch up on all my studies (30+ hours of actual Greek study, NOT including breaks/lunch times etc) and even get out of Auckland for a minute to play in the woods and on some rocks. This year I took a group of youth from my church to a Firwood style Easter Camp of 4,000 Baptist students in
Hamilton. I know I was hugely encouraged by listening to top NZ speakers, musicians whose hearts burned for the Lord. Speaker Justin Duckworth is just about one of the most radical Christian leaders I have heard, one of those speakers that makes you think to yourself, “this isn’t your average hoorah go Jesus pep-talk with average theology that kids normally get- can he even say this stuff from the front??” I have heard him be described as “the conscience of NZ,” which sounds spot on after my conscience was convicted. Not only was camp personally challenging, it provided a neat space to just hang out with my kids and talk about Jesus. To top it all off, I didn’t get sick at all : )
Reflecting on the previous 6 months, life has been incredible. God has allowed me to experience things that have truly broken and reshaped who I am at a deeper level. From the near death experience in NZ that brought me back to the
US for surgery, to Fiji outreach with my church and the subsequent sicknesses and frustration that came from it. When I was home in the States, some deeper theological questions that had remained dormant surfaced, then culminated in there fullness when I had unparalleled amount of time to think in a Central Otago vineyard. Laying out my soul to God, he met me in a dry and weary place in a series of huge ways. I stopped believing God exists and I just simply know now. What a painful, excruciatingly beautiful time ß(this sentence wording is funny, but it’s not a mistake). From the time I stopped studying due to parvovirus to the time I started back up again last month, has been absolutely monumental. It would not be an understatement to claim that these months have been just as pivotal as truly giving my heart completely to Christ in 5+ years ago. I study with heightened passion and awareness of what God is up to and how he moves. Guatemala
I’ve been seeking to engage more holistically with the world. This semester at Laidlaw, 3 of my 4 classes are essentially on Missions/Global missions and that has deeply challenged my thinking. I did a substantial project God and mission, and how mission is the central focus of his heart. I realized if I was only able to cite one chapter in Matthew for support of why we go out, I was missing a large portion of the entire scriptures. This coupled with an increased awareness of poverty and our roles as Christians to be a blessing to others has fuelled changes in my life. Hopefully these changes don’t lead to legalism, but I’ll cross that hurdle if I get there.
As a theological student, my prayer is that study transforms what I would naturally put out, to something unnatural to who I am, a supernatural response some would say. This requires training and painful moments, just like an athlete prepping to race, running to win the prize. You do the same unnatural motion or practice the same activity for hours in the hope that on game day, it would be a natural response. After my initial sickness in NZ I began to think more and more about every aspect of my body/life that I was involved in. In a way that surprised even myself I began making changes to my diet (and much more!) as I was convicted. For a long time I’ve eaten junk fast foods etc, but the gospel has convicted me of that. Strange! 5 months ago I stopped eating at all major fast food places and in the last 2 months I committed to not eating at them again for good. Good nutrition matters! As with anything in life, you can’t put out what you don’t put in. I’m eating tons of veggies and low fat meats, putting the money that I use to spend elsewhere on crap foods towards healthy, cheaper eating. I feel great. This then triggered a connection with how I spend my money also, God has allowed situations that have really challenged me to think more theologically about how I spend my money and what on in a light of a world where children die daily from things that would cost cents a day to combat. I could keep going but it might just go on and on… and nobody, including myself likes reading that. Let’s just say my outlook on things has radically changed, again. I pray it would keep changing in a sensitive response to what God is doing in my life and the lives of others I’m in community with.
Thank you for all your prayers and support over Facebook and email. I haven’t been good with all types of communication recently to the States, but I will try to work on that. If I typed about all the amazing things that have occurred recently in my life and my families, I would have to type all day! I will stop here.
Please ask God to help me study, for direction on if I should stay in NZ after finishing my undergrad, continuing on here or abroad (RegentJ) to pursue my masters or if I should respond to some justice issues that have been stirring in my heart in two separate locations on two continents. God has called and confirmed my studies at Laidlaw, then reconfirmed so I know this is where I should be…but for how long? Do I keep studying or do I take a break for a season? Also if you pray please ask God to be all over the crafting of my upcoming sermon, May 6th on which I might title: Reality Reorientation. It’s a horribly wonderful thing when the lead pastor allows you to teach on any topic. I began praying on what to teach, dismayed by options, and God has since confirmed me to go with what was on my heart recently.
Ain’t it good to be alive?