Friday, September 24, 2004

The People I Get To Meet

Working as sound engineer for a professional Christian a cappella group has many perks. One of them is that I get to meet some famous people every once in a while. A week or so ago I got to meet Geoff Moore. Tonight Rescue performed for a benefit concert for a missions organization, and one of the people speaking there was Katie Harmon, Miss America 2002. The coolest thing about meeting her was seeing her heart for the Lord and for the poor. Truly a testament to me of where the work needs to be done.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Witness is Recording

I recently discovered that my bid to record Witness was accepted. This is extremely exciting because it means that I will be able to purchase some wonderful recording equipment for future use for them and for myself. The bad news is that the album is supposed to be finished by finals week, which will give us about 2 months to record, edit, and send off the album to be duplicated and get the product back. This will have to also be done in the midst of moving, preparing the move and support letters for Cascade Hills, and continuing my duties as sound engineer for Rescue, which takes up all my weekends. The task ahead of me will probably be very difficult and sleep deprived, but I am looking forward to the challenge. This is still a blessing, and well worth the hard work.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

The power of God and His creation

I was just sitting here playing a video game and was kinda spacing out losing track of time when it started pouring down rain. My parking lot is now a lake, keeping me from leaving. I don't know if it was the noise of the rain beating against the carport covering in the parking lot or the many flashes of lightning and rumbling thunder that finally snapped me out of my zombie-like state. Most likely it was the power briefly going off, involuntarily shutting off my computer.

I'm back up now. I think I'll go eat dinner.

Monday, September 13, 2004

We are blessed

Let me tell you the story of a man named Michael. No, this man is not my brother Michael.

This is the story of a man who lives in a small village/town in Fiji. While staying in the nicest hotel in Fiji for a huge Christian festival, I took a stroll down the harbor and met a man asking for money. I was the easy target, being a white, 6'3", red-haired man from the U.S., I obviously had more than him. He was in soiled clothes, probably one of two or three sets of clothing that he owned, had a bandana on his head, and a greying beard.

I asked him what his name is and he told me "Michael, strong, like the angel." We both laughed and I told him my name, where I was from, what I did, and what we were doing in Fiji. He told me his story:

Michael was orphanized when his mother moved to Australia with a man and he was left to fend for himself. He lived across the harbor in a small town/village. He pointed across to the hills and some small buildings barely visible. Michael is self-employed. He chops firewood for a living, so that all the people can cook their food, make campfires, and drink their kava, which is like tea or coffee to them, but is actually a drug. But then again, so is coffee, right?

Every sunday Michael comes over to the large city of 200,000 where we were staying called Suva. He buys kerosene and toothpaste (he had nice teeth!) and whatever else he and his wife and child will need. In his small business, Michael makes 50-60 Fijian dollars per week, which amounts to about $35 USD. Mind you, he doesn't have to pay rent, car insurance, or student loans, but $35 per week in the United States means that you will be homeless. Michael told me to ask his age, and I guess probably about 40 or 45. He was 33 and had gray streaks in his beard, tatoos along his hands and arms, and roughened features from a life of fending for himself and of hard work.

I told that story to say that we are incredibly wealthy in this country, whether you want to call it a blessing or not. In Fiji, every person I came into contact with would greet you with a "Bula", which means "hello", and go out of their way to be friendly, regardless of if you are in the city or in a village. Here, everyone is too busy to see beyond themselves, and too busy trying to make money to feed their need for more stuff. Michael was excited to tell me how happy he was to get a mosquito net for $27 Fijian. We are excited when we get cars, electronics, and other lavish items.

Now let us look at the poor in our own country. In Fiji, making $35 per week is still livable because there aren't as many bills to pay and people live in villages, where they share and give to each other. Here, every man is for himself. $35 per week might be enough for rent if you had three or four roommates in a small one bedroom apartment, but then how would one eat? Is it as easy now to look on the homeless with contempt? There are jobs available, but many of them lack the skill or ability to do them. Even the simplest of fast food jobs require some skill at being on time, handling a mop, or counting money. As Christians we should be helping the least of these (Matt. 25:40), not out of pity or contempt, but out of love and a desire to genuinely help, as Christ loved us. I hope you will sense the urgency behind this message, that there are too many who need help that can't wait for us to finish planning our praise team practices and weekend retreats! These things are good, but do not let them consume us and all our time.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Writing from Fiji

The past several days have been a crazy whirlwind for me. I left the US on monday evening and arrived in Fiji on wednesday, losing a day in the process. I am Rescue's sound engineer and we were given the opportunity to sing at a festival in Fiji put on by Luis Palau and Delta Ministries.

The other day on our way from Nadi, Fiji to Suva, Fiji it hit me how surreal the situation was. I was on a bus in a small island in the South Pacific with Rescue, a reggae band from Australia, three Christian skateboarders, and Geoff Moore and his band. If you were to ask me what I would be doing a year ago, I can't say this would be at the top of my list of guesses.

Today is Sunday in Fiji, and we will get back into the US on Sunday...before we left. I better get some sleep on the plane or else I will be totally thrown off.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Jealousy of others' ministries?

Is jealousy of other ministers' success a normal thing among other ministers? When I see people succeed at something I have failed, or simply have yet to succeed in, I should rejoice in their success, especially if it is in service to the God of all creation.

I'll back up a little. I've always been involved in music, and have had a lot of things given to me freely when it comes to music, including some talent. I just came back from the first night of a popular youth rally in the Northwest, called Faithquest. I was invited to sing on the praise team for this event, yet couldn't due to some other obligations previously scheduled. I went out there for one night to hear the group I direct perform and then to stay for some praise led by the praise team. Standing in the crowd watching the praise team sing I started to say to myself (which I can't remember doing before) "I should be up there". I caught myself and asked God for forgiveness, reminding myself that it doesn't matter where I stand if my heart is directed at worshiping myself or even the talents God has given me. The praise isn't directed at me anyway. God alone is where the praise can be directed.

Ask yourself the next time you feel envious of other churches' successful praise team ministry, young adult ministry, or other ministry that you just can't seem to get off the ground, "why am I jealous?" Some ministries just don't work for all people all the time. Don't get jealous, but instead be thankful that God is leading you in a different direction. Then you will know how to handle the situation when another minister wants to mimic your "new direction".

It is my prayer that in any ministry I am involved in, that my worship be only of the Creator and never of the creation.