words and The Word

I had the privilege of writing morning devotionals for the students at Shorebreak. Every morning after breakfast we gathered for a time of music and then everyone got a copy of the devotion for the day and went to find a place of solitude; a place where they could spend quality time with God, without distraction from others.

This was the first devotion of camp and I wrote it to supplement Cyrus’ teaching on the G.O.S.P.E.L. (see the last post for the meaning). I wrote it for a High School audience, but God’s truth surpasses the generational gaps! Oh, and by the way, the theme for the camp was reversal, so I tried to sneak that in there too 😉

May these words and The Word be an an encouragement to you today.

    Once Upon a Time                

Bible Reading – Ephesians 2:1-10

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Once upon a time mankind was at peace with God. Adam and Eve walked and talked with God. But then they made a decision which caused humanity’s spiritual separation from God. From the moment they ate the forbidden fruit, humanity took a turn down the path of sin and death. So instead of following God, our passage points out that we have been obeying our fleshly desires, the course of the world, and the deceptions of Satan.

But there is such good news! God is rich in love and brought us life in His Son Jesus! We can now walk and talk with God the way He always wanted. We don’t have to go back to obeying the world, our lusts, or Satan. He has given us a great gift and prepared wonderful work for us to do to bring Him glory. Jesus has reversed and for all time demolished the power of death and sin in our lives.

  1. If you have not trusted Jesus as your Savior, will you take time to consider this passage more carefully? Read it a few more times and look for God’s tremendous love for you and His desire to bring you life!
  1. If you are a Christian, are you living in the life of Christ? Are you obeying the world and your own desires, or relishing the gift of God and seeking after those good works that He created and saved you for?

Pray – If you are convinced that you need Jesus as Savior, pray and tell God that you accept His free gift of grace! For those who are saved, ask God to convict you of areas you may need to choose to follow Him instead of your own desires. And ask for His help reverse the sinful directions you are going.

Squid, Anyone????

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Jeremiah 17:10a – I, The Lord, search the heart, I test the mind…

Cyrus and I are both passionate about communicating God’s Truth. And Shorebreak (H.S. camp) was no exception. However, we were going with very little knowledge about the students’ hearts. We knew many attended a Cadence run youth group, some were new to living abroad, some had barely set foot in the states, but we had no idea what their relationships with the Lord looked like.

With that in mind, Cyrus determined to start with the essentials and share the message of the G.O.S.P.E.L. over the course of the first two days. Here it is in a nutshell:

G – God created us to be with Him.

O – Our sin separated us from God.

S – Sins cannot be removed by good deeds.

P – Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again.

E – Everyone that believes in Him has eternal life.

L – Life that’s eternal means we will be with Him forever.

Visit http://www.dare2share.org/ to learn more about this acrostic and Dare2Share – a ministry focused on helping students share their faith.

This gave an opportunity for students who didn’t understand the gospel or who had never heard it to see what our Heavenly Father had to offer them! Cyrus also wove in a challenge for re-commitment to Christ.

As with much of ministry, we don’t know all the details of how this teaching impacted each individual student, but we heard several stories that gave us hope that God’s Word was well received! We heard of re-commitments and students having a clearer understanding of the gospel than they ever had before. Most importantly, we rest in the fact that God knows every heart more intimately than we can imagine. And our tiny contribution to His kingdom was used by Him, whether we ever see the results or not. We trust that He is always at work.

Below is a video clip that Cyrus showed to the students, quickly covering the overarching theme of salvation in the Bible. It is powerful – please watch!

In addition to the teaching, Shorebreak was bustling with super fun activities! Here’s a run-down of Monday:

Monday we arrived at Tokashiki Friendship Center, the location of Shorebreak (camp). All the students were divided into one of four colored teams: Pink, Blue, Red, and what morphed in to ‘grellow’ (some identity confusion there J).So after lunch, the team competitions began!

With a relay race. Oh, and the baton? Fresh, live, wiggling, and inking squid!

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Squid Relay!

Nothing like seafood to break the ice!

After that the students had some free time before dinner. But not us. Cyrus worked on putting the finishing touches on his first session and I joined the rest of the worship team to practice.

Dinner (I’ll have to tell all about the interesting food another time) came and went and it was session time.

Our program team of Hanz and Franz (also known as Tori and Bjorn) got things off to a great start with a silly game. Each student volunteer had to stand on one leg, bend over, and grab a paper lunch bag with their mouth. Sounds easy, right? You might be surprised! There was far more falling than paper-bag-grabbing. And most of all there was laughter.

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Hanz and Franz

The program team had to make some plans on the fly because certain details fell through, but you never would have known; they did a great job.

Worship through music was next. Though behind the scenes this was a bit hectic, everything came together by the grace of God and I truly believe that attention was given to God, not the musicians.

Here is a link to one of the favorite songs of the week:

After that was Cyrus’ first session – the G.O.S. His talk was followed by small group discussion time (probably one of the most beneficial activities of camp).

And to wrap it all up……. Night games, of course! Our game master, Bryce, set up a thrilling battle of capture-the-flag, using glow sticks 🙂

Finally, our evening came to an end. Cyrus and I were fortunate to sleep on beds. Most everyone else had to sleep on bamboo covered floors called tatami mats. I guess sometimes it pays to be among the oldest people around!

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Tatami Mat Floors

Next time I will begin to share with you the devotions I wrote for the students’ morning quiet time with God. And of course, there are many more stories to tell!

Thanks for reading. If you have any specific questions, ask away!!!

Landfall

Finally, we stepped off the airplane and onto the little island of Okinawa – a bit behind schedule. Our new friends Kenji and Heather were there to sweep us away for a quick night’s rest before we were to be ferried away to the even smaller island of Tokashiki.

Easter morning greeted us with early morning sun and warmth as we huddled in a convenience store parking lot. We were about to pile into vans and head for the port when a brief phone call halted us.

Somewhere, in some ocean (I’ll be honest, my geographic knowledge of that part of the world is somewhat lacking), a typhoon was churning  and in turn making our route unsafe for travel.

We really needed this day to get things set up before the students’ arrival on Monday. And we were hoping to have a great time of getting to know the Cadence* staff as well.

But God is good. And He has His own plans.

Though this turn of events threw off many peoples’ plans, I am pleased to report that everyone handled the problem with grace and flexibility, resulting in a unification that otherwise wouldn’t have occurred. The Body of Christ really has an opportunity to shine when faced with difficult circumstances, and this time our group and Cadence staff did just that.

We spent Easter Sunday studying God’s Word, going to sushi, and visiting Cadence run youth groups on a couple different military bases.  This allowed us to get to know some of the staff and students before camp (Shorebreak). Looking back, this was extremely valuable. Relationship building with students got off to an even earlier start than expected!

Monday morning was a repeat of Sunday morning, and this time the route was safe for travel! So our Corban team, the Cadence staff, adult volunteers, and all the students boarded the ferry and arrived on Tokashiki around lunch time. It was a mad dash to get set up, but it happened!

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Bare feet required at this sushi restaurant!

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Yummmmmmmmmmmmm.

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Some of the Corban Team (Andrew, Bjorn, Tori, Lisa, and TJ)

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On the ferry to Tokashiki

Next blog I hope to share with you more about the specific roles Cyrus and I had for the week. So much more to come!

* Please take a minute to visit cadence.org to learn more about Cadence International and the wonderful ministry they have with military members and their families. It was a privilege to work alongside them!

Coming Home and Looking Back

We’re in Taipei again. Eight days ago we were in in the same place preparing for ministry; today we wait, with full hearts and minds, for the final two legs of our journey. We’ve had only briefly passing moments to reflect on all that has occurred.

For all who have supported us financially and prayerfully, I want to do my utmost to communicate what God has been doing in our little slice of existence over the last week. It’s impossible to communicate the sum of our experiences in a short blog post, so anticipate many more!

Our adventure began late Thursday night with flight number one departing PDX at 9:30 PM. A short flight landed us in San Francisco where we awaited our 1:40 AM flight to Taipei,Taiwan. During these first few hours we became more acquainted with our Corban student team – four young men and three young women, all of whom are Super Duper people! And somewhere in there, we became ‘mom and dad’ to this fantastic group 🙂

The thirteen hour flight to Taipei was a blur of comfortless sleep, on-board movies, music, and some chatting. Then, voila, we were in Taiwan at 6 AM Saturday morning.

I realized we had essentially missed Friday in the blur. And not just any Friday, Good Friday.

And more than that, we were now in a part of the world that realized no significance in that day or in Easter. No celebration, no cross, no Easter Lilly, not even an Easter bunny!

I can’t imagine living in a world with no Easter, and no Good Friday. That dark day that  led to the explosively bright Sunday morning is pivotal for all humanity, whether they recognize it or not.

No Good Friday equals no, shedding of blood and no removal of sin. It was the blood of a lamb that covered the sins of the Israelites, that guarded their lives while the lives of Egyptians were snatched away. And it is the blood of THE LAMB that more than covers – it completely annihilates every last speck of sin lurking in our lives making us brighter and whiter than our minds can comprehend.

Without His death we have no life. Without His blood we have no righteousness.

This is the good news we were called to the tiny island of Tokashiki (pronounced tuh-kosh-key, they drop a syllable) to teach.

But we could’t go quite yet; we had a 12 hour layover in front of us! We spent Saturday exploring part of Taipei. On the North East coast we explored some very interesting rock formations, one which is famously known as the ‘queen’s head.’ Later we took a 30 second elevator ride up to the top of Taipei 101, the world’s second tallest building at 101 floors – 509 meters tall. It was better than a Disneyland ride!

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Multiple Views of Taipei 101                                      North East Coast Rock Formations 

We left that evening on our final flight to Okinawa, Japan. So far things were going just as planned.

But that’s just the beginning of the story ……………More to come!

It’s a Trust Thing

IMG_0361Trust is a funny thing. Sometimes we give it too freely and end up grieved in return. Sometimes we hold it back, even when it’s in our best interest to give it.

We fly away to Okinawa today, but God is already using this trip to teach me a few lessons.

I know that any other mom will understand the feelings I have about leaving my children home while I travel to the other side of the world. Am I being irresponsible? Will they be safe? Will I be safe? What if something horribly awful happens? I could go on, but you get my point.

Honestly, this flood of questions began before I even decided to join my husband on this adventure. And I have continued to wade through them daily. Right now the anxiety of leaving my kids behind is overshadowing the excitement of serving God. (By the way, I’m teaching a workshop on overcoming worry and anxiety at the camp this week. Hmmmmm………….)

But the beauty in the midst of this turmoil is the confidence I have in obedience. This is a fear God means for me to face. Though the questions arise I have a foundation of peace and hope in Christ. He has called me to go for this moment in time. How can I refuse?

So off I go, leaving my children in the capable hands of their grandparents, because I trust them. But more importantly, I trust Him. Our lives are in His hand. He knew the number of our days before we had even lived one of them.

Time for me to take a cry break………………………

I’m back, and on a lighter note our packing and planning are wrapping up. Our flight leaves PDX tonight at 9:30 headed to San Francisco. After a short layover, we board a plane for Taiwan which arrives Saturday morning, Taiwan time. Since we have a 12 hour layover there, we managed to squeeze in a tour of the area – we may even get to take a trip to the top of the world’s second tallest building! Saturday evening we catch another plane to Okinawa. Sunday morning we will take a ferry ride out to Tokishiki where the camp will be held. Sunday is prep day and then the High School students come Monday morning. It’s going to be a crazy whirlwind of activity and we are trusting that God will sustain us.

Hopefully we can give some updates as the week progresses!

Please pray for safety for our whole group and that we would be effective ministers God’s Word. And say a special pray for comfort of this momma’s heart!