The Cross, Transformation

My First Mission Trip

Last week on Wednesday, I boarded a plane at about 6am for Phoenix with people from my church, most of whom I didn’t know well. I didn’t have many expectations only to work hard and sacrifice my introvert time! We arrived in Phoenix safely and were off to the Phoenix Dream Center in no time! Once we arrived, we were greeted and put to work right away.

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Myself and roommates were given the task to deep clean the Hacienda, a room used for children’s church and women’s morning devotions. A bit later we put together discipleship binders that the men use for their program. I can’t tell you how many times we tried to create a smooth process to put the right forms behind the right tabs just like the example binder. There were seven of us (4 missionaries, 3 female program leaders) and just as it was turning into a lunch break we finally found an efficient process! Now I can put together those binders in my sleep! The rest of the day is a blur as we were kept busy until 9pm, cleaning and painting rooms.

Thursday morning we woke up around 4am for a 5am hike at The Phoenix Mountain Reserve. I was not enthusiastic and chose the “easier” path when offered. Soon I renamed the “easier” path as the “actually moderate for me” path. It was a mental challenge because I did not know the path or where it was leading or when it would be over! I kept my negative thoughts to myself and continued on like everyone else. Maybe it was my short attention span taking over, my untrained body shocked or my stubborn will deciding “so what’s the point?” We came to another crossroads our leaders told us: we could hike up a very steep hill to see a beautiful view or walk back towards the parking lot. I said PARKING LOT immediately, but as most of my peers decided to take the challenge, I succumbed to their lead. Guess what? It was a very beautiful view and yes I did feel accomplished having done the harder thing. After that I did look forward to our Saturday morning hike at another location but the night before it got cancelled and we were scheduled to do a different project.

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A task we were given on Friday afternoon was to clean the 3rd floor railings with rags and a bucket of cleaning solution water. I never imagined I would be cleaning the railings of re-purposed hotel but there I was. The rooms of The Phoenix Dream Center all face an open courtyard where birds are free to fly so there’s no lack of bird droppings on the railings. Cleaning the railings gave plenty of time for people to talk and share their stories with one another. This was my view looking up from the 3rd floor.

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Friday evening, we went to an outreach to a neighborhood park to play with the neighborhood kids. Every Friday program students facilitate this outreach, they bring food and clothing, music and usually share the Gospel. A boy named, Nick, who was about 10 years old asked us if a certain woman was with us but we told him she did not come with us, he opened a pocket size bible and showed us that she signed her name in it. He explained that he had been waiting to see her again. He also asked if she had sent the bags of clothes she promised, which she had. I was amazed at the relationships that were being built there in the park on Friday nights.

Friday night, we gathered as a very large group to pray before we headed out onto the bar district of Tempe, AZ. It is an outreach they do every Friday night. We broke into smaller groups to walk around and pass out bible tracts or pray. I held a sign that read, “Jesus Forgives.” It was something I wouldn’t ever do at home. We walked by a lot of people enjoying themselves at the bars or restaurants, most ignored us. However, some did not ignore us. They mocked us or mocked our signs, someone from a balcony shouted “hail satan” repeatedly as we crossed a street. The Discipleship students that were with us did a great job of initiating conversations or just greeting passersby. They asked if they could pray for them and accepted whatever response they got back. Although this was all new to me, the students do this outreach every Friday night. I wondered if what I was feeling was what the Apostle Paul felt when he spent time preaching and writing letters to the believers in cities like Corinth. He knew the believers would need encouragement as they lived in a place known for lasciviousness. Most of us do live in a Christian bubble. Most of us don’t spend our Friday nights getting drunk at clubs anymore and so we are removed from the people that never left. I realized it is going to be an important part of ministry to put myself in places I would usually stick my nose up at. The night ended at their traditional spot, Jack in the Box. The only complaint I had that day was Jack in the Box was all out of chicken salads! Seriously, all I wanted was a salad.

Saturday was the day we went to the Gila River Reservation. We were part of a similar style outreach for the kids there. Hot dogs were grilled, basketball was played [ not by me LOL], there was bible trivia and candy. I had my first experience with “rez” dogs, dogs I’ve only heard about on the internet.

In the afternoon, we gathered again for another outreach in an apartment complex parking lot. Discipleship students and some of our group members walked through the apartment buildings to gather the kids. We served hot dogs and cookies, sorted through donated produces to make take home boxes for the kids. Some little girls got their face painted. I played Connect 4 with a 8 year old boy until it was time for the bible story and quiz. There was a water fight. There was am irate man that threatened to call the police on us if we didn’t leave, although the group had permission from the property owner to have the outreach every Saturday. The man took a few food items but eventually left and the outreach went on smoothly. One little girl around 4 years old didn’t leave the Leader’s side. She went wherever he went and always wanted to sit with him. I could only imagine she was desperate for a father and this may have been the only positive consistent male figure in her young life.

We gathered back at the Dream Center afterwards. Soon after, someone in our group quickly came up with a plan to ambush another mission team from South Carolina with a water fight. This was done to us by our mission coordinator earlier in the week. The South Carolina team had arrived at the Dream Center early Saturday after some had pulled all-nighters for their flight. After the water fight, we circled up and both teams prayed for one another. Later that night, our mission team met together one last time to debrief. We shared our highlights for the week which most of us talked about how we did things we don’t normally do, we stepped out of our comfort zones, we appreciated all the hard work The Phoenix Dream Center does daily, and how much we enjoyed getting to know other people from our own church.

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The next morning we woke up and prayed together one last night before heading to Dream City Church Phoenix. The church campus was beautiful! We got a quick tour before going into service. I posted the following on my social media accounts: “Sunday morning concluded my first mission trip. As I sat 3 rows centered from the stage in a reserved section I waited to hear special guest @drcarolineleaf speak, I began to simply take in the moment. I thought WoW, I get to be here in Arizona – serve at the Phoenix Dream Center- attend service at the main @dreamcitychurch – hear the author of Switch on Your Brain speak! During worship I began to repeat these experiences and as I said in my mind, “Im front & center here…” – God said “yes, you are front & center to me, you’re my Shining Star and I like it when you are outgoing.” I thought in my mind “I always feel on the back burner”….God instantly said “You Are Not on The Back Burner.” I began to cry, almost weep. I cried for a whole song. Even throughout the next 20min if I replayed the conversation in my head I began to tear up. I hadn’t ever articulated that I felt on the back burner before that very moment. It was a real conversation from Heaven down to my ears! God speaks to me when I least expect it and tells me things I didnt know I needed to know! He’s so so kind to me♫”

I know I’m leaving a lot details out because there are so many things I could write about. I appreciated that I had a team that didn’t complain and just went to work when given any task.

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The Phoenix Dream Center: https://www.phxdreamcenter.org/

Dream City Church Phoenix: https://dreamcitychurch.us/

Dream City Church Omaha: https://dreamcitychurch.us/campuses/omaha-nebraska/

Church on the Street: https://www.cotsphoenix.org/

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Quick Read, The Cross, video

Sola Gratia: will you testify?

 

 

Tonight I shared this message at my work place during a monthly celebration of the guests in our recovery program. Last month, after the celebration I typed up this message and had the idea to play this music video in the background to illustrate my main points. I know that God has messages in me, I just have to step up and out to share them. The following is my message I shared.

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****I thought I had a unique way of thinking about God and Jesus for some time, then Justus came out with this video and it brought it to a whole other level.

I have a vision of the court room. I’m/we’re the defendant sitting on the right side. The county attorney is on the left. The judge is in front of us on his bench.

Many of you know this scene and what it feels like. Your life is in someone else’s hands. You’re not sure what the outcome will be. Hoping you got a “good” judge. Hoping your attorney has done the best for you. A lot is on the line.

Maybe it was a very public high profile case. Maybe it was your first time facing a judge. Your family might have your back or they deserted you already. No one can bail you out and your friends are nowhere to be found. You’re having to stand on your own and face the consequences.

Many people know of God the Father as a Judge. He will judge us all on Judgement Day. But most leave it as that. God is a judge. God judges me. It doesn’t matter what I do, we’re all doomed. So what’s the point?

In my career, I’ve been an unofficial and official advocate. I’ve gone to court with people to offer support and encouragement. That’s what an advocate does. The Holy Spirit is our advocate. The bible calls him our Advocate in John 14:26. The Holy Spirit is on your right side holding you up when you’re not strong enough.

But on your left, you have the greatest attorney ever, Jesus.

In fact, if you see it the way I’ve come to see it – its that God tipped the scales of justice in favor of us by sending us Jesus. We’ve sinned against God so we can’t go to Heaven but He gave us Jesus so that we can go to Heaven to be with Him.

Can you imagine going to court tomorrow, and your attorney is the judge’s son? Wouldn’t you feel pretty good? I know that God the Father has the same heart for you that Jesus his son does. God the Judge has the same heart for you that Jesus the attorney does.

Jesus approaches the Judge in the court of heaven, as Satan the Accuser (that’s in the bible too) approaches the Judge and accuses you of all the things you’ve done. He tells God you’re a liar, an adultery, fornicator, thief, idolater, murderer etc. He hates you. Jesus stands before the
Father,
I know this man. I know this woman. This is my Friend
my brother
This is my sister
She loves me. He loves me. I can vouch for him. I know her heart. She’s clean. He’s repented. I’ve cleansed them.

Knowing that your attorney is the judge’ son, do you see how the Accuser has nothing on you? At best all he can do is accuse. If you give your life to Christ, and follow Christ and let the Holy Spirit dwell on the inside of you— you will be washed CLEAN. The Accuser will have no case against you. He will not have any evidence. God the Father didn’t have to send someone to take our charge, to take our punishment. But HE LOVED US SO MUCH HE STILL WANTED US EVEN AFTER ALL WE”VE DONE TO GRIEVE HIM. DESPITE THE SORROW HE FEELS TIME AFTER TIME BECAUSE WE BECOME HIS FOES. HE STILL WANTS US. HE DOESN’T WANT TO LISTEN TO THE ACCUSER. SO WHY DO WE LISTEN TO HIM? When Christ let out, “It is finished.” That’s what he meant. The accuser is finished. Shame is finished. Self Harm is finished. Self hate is finished. He took all of that. He took our sins to the Cross but also the pain, the infliction, the wounds of the heart and mind.

All of this stuff already happened. These are facts and truth. All we have to do is RECEIVE this Truth. Do you now why Jesus came? Most will say to save us, that’s part of it. But in his own words to Pilate, the regional leader of the Roman empire, just before Jesus was sentenced to a crucifixion, Pilate asked Jesus if he was a king. Jesus tells him, “ …in FACT, the reason I was born and came into this world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” John 18:37

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He came to testify ( def: give evidence as a witness in a court of law, serve as proof of something existing, something being the case) to the truth.
Will you stand with Jesus and testify to the Truth? Will you stop listening to the lies of the Accuser?

–Prayer:

Jesus, I want to receive you as Truth, please show me how. I want to reject the Accuser’s lies, please show me how. Your will not mine. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Gender Issues, Men, Quick Read, sex, Women

Images of Imtimacy

***The following is an article I just found!***

Images of Intimacy by Josh Glasser

March 22, 2018

https://regenerationministries.org/images-of-intimacy/

 

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“If you struggle with lust, consider this for a moment: Can you explain why you are drawn to the form of a woman or the form of a man?

Beyond the specifics of what part of the body titillates you sexually, have you ever considered why it titillates you? Why does your body stir at the sight of another’s body? Is it a learned response because your body knows the pleasure that awaits if you engage in sexual activity? Maybe, but it did not begin that way.

At the core, the bodily stirring, the feeling of being drawn, the romantic and sexual desire, all these happen because sex is relational.

In other words, the core reason you’re drawn is because you’re longing for intimacy.

In pornography and other forms of sexual fantasy, intimacy isn’t really there, of course, but something in the images suggests it is. Nakedness suggests it.

By God’s design, nakedness is a sign, an icon, an expression, an image of intimacy. It has always been so. God has made the human body wonderful and glorious—“fearfully and wonderfully made”—beautiful to behold.

We might also think of this in this way: The naked body reveals the person without covering, without veil, without obstruction. If intimacy is knowing and being known fully, then of course nakedness would serve as a sign of more complete knowing than clothing would. Clothing veils, even disguises the physical person. Nakedness reveals.

And nakedness as a sign of intimacy goes further still. Consider the sexual parts of the body. What makes them “sexual”? Isn’t it that they are designed to connect intimately with another human being?

In nakedness, a man and woman’s genitalia is exposed—the specific parts of the body by which we experience deeply intimate physical knowing and being known. The man and woman’s bodies are designed for intimate connection—two becoming “one flesh” with each other.

So doesn’t it make sense that the naked images of man or woman draws us because of our God-given need and our good longing for intimacy—to know and be known fully and without fear?

Lust, pornography, and other expressions of sexual sin hijack the icon of intimacy and use it instead as a false intimacy—the form without the substance. For a few moments, the brain and body may have a sense of nakedness without shame, a sense of being known and knowing. The human body on its own cannot tell the difference between the real and the false. But the soul can.

This is why lust never satisfies.

Jesus came to restore the union between body and soul. We were rent apart in the fall, but Jesus can make us whole again. Jesus can help us see again.

We are drawn to nakedness because we are created for intimacy.

Nakedness is a sign, an image, an icon of intimacy because it reveals that our bodies are created by God for intimacy, for knowing and being known, to love and to be loved. In this way, human nakedness is most profoundly an image, a sign, an icon created to reveal God Himself.

Do you struggle with lust? Recognize your longing for intimacy. Seek out healthy, non-sexual intimate relationships. Ask Jesus to show you who He sees when all you see is a what. And keep asking Jesus to raise your body from the death of false intimacy and to make you whole again—body and soul—an image bearer of God.

Question for you: What stands out to you in this post? How might this change your approach to dealing with lust? Leave a comment here.

For you,
Josh

P.S. Listen and subscribe to our new podcast! Search for “Regeneration Ministries Podcast” on iTunes or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts!”

 

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Gender Issues, History, International, Men, Women

The UNfeminist Critique of The Handmaid’s Tale

I realize I haven’t written material overtly related to feminism lately so what better topic than Hulu’s new show, The Handmaid’s Tale[THT] which source is the book by Margaret Atwood circa 1985. The year I was born.

Its no coincidence and I was made for such a time as this *Esther 4:14.

Not only does THT include issues of feminism but even more so, it includes the R word…Religion.

Not Christianity.

The Republic of Gilead uses scripture out of context for the sole purpose of exerting its will on the people. Christians should see this right away and know its not a far stretch from what Non- Christians already believe about Christianity as of 2017.

THT’s version of religion is one that depicts: rape, murder, sinful rage, PTSD, brain washing, fear, confusuon, hate crimes, manipulation, coercion, lies, torture, female genital mutilation, loveless and sexless marriages, depression, psychosis, and absolutely NO GOSPEL, NO JESUS as normal; “blessed be” daily living for everyone.

All the feminist arguments are there and all the arguments against Faith are there. Its a sad, barren (sorry “Wives”) society.

Even the Commanders (well so far Commander Waterford) appears disgusted by his role in the Ceremony. He is reduced to his reproductive abilities like a breeding stag. All relationships are formed out of formality and reproductive opportunities. Relationships are made not to bring joy but to enoforce human production. But who are they are arranged by?

The government. On the most superficial level Im sure liberals, athiests, democrats and feminists make the argument that the Republic of Gilead is DJT’s government. *excuse me while I roll my eyes into oblivion*

The Republic of Gilead is a dictatorship, Communist- Slave State, ridden with fundamentalism on the surface and a cult at the core.

The Republic renames its people, June becomes Offred which is just a plantation name not an individual name. No one is allowed to speak of life before. Handmaids are not allowed to read. Lynching is common. Rape is systematic. Violence is expected. Resistance is underground. Fertility is ruined by “environmental disasters” ( Or… http://natural-fertility-info.com/aspartame.html). Women have no rights to money or property.

Offred’s narration tells us “when they slaughtered Congress we didn’t wake up.” Within the 4 episodes we see June, Luke and Moira continue to minimize the tactics of the military force on their way of life, the American way of life.

When the barista called them sluts and ordered for them to leave the coffee shop. When women were told they had to leave the office because “its the law now,” they packed their boxes and left. When their accounts were frozen and their money transferred to the male next of kin.When June’s newborn was the only baby in the hospital nursery.

Where were they these ideas were beginning to saturate America? Where were they when our government waa being man-handled? Where were they?

Where were they when a militaristic terror group based on patriarchial religion was:

-Raping and selling women (http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2016/09/isis-sex-slaves-auctioned-off-saudi-arabia-hillarys-top-donor-country/)

-Beheading people that dont believe what they believe

– Mutilating girls and women (http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/wayne/2017/04/26/feds-indict-3-genital-mutilation-case-2-docs-woman-head-trial/100930242)

-Making it law for women to cover their heads

– Throwing gays from buildings (http://www.jerusalemonline.com/news/middle-east/the-arab-world/isis-documented-throwing-gays-off-the-rooftops-of-buildings-25758)

– Rounding up LGBT for concentration camps (https://milo.yiannopoulos.net/2017/05/chechnya-parents-gays/)

Where were you then? I guess those horrors aren’t real unless they happen to White Feminism.

The grimace of the majority white cast of THT is sadly ironic as their horrors and trauma are centuries of daily life for the majority of the world- past, present and future.

And DJT has nothing to do with it.

Your marches are cartoonish. Your cries for equality (superiority) are the noise of toddlers that need their diapers changed. Your tweets always adolsecent. Your posters weak, pretentious and obnoxious. Your demands laughable compared to the needs of real women.

THT is your post- feminist America. Yoga pants, Starbucks and casual sex outlawed by gargantuan government you voted in and yielded to.

Remember that when you’re not welcome in your own city.

http://www.breitbart.com/london/2017/01/09/half-german-women-feel-unsafe-neighbourhoods/
http://m.france24.com/en/20161219-focus-france-women-suburbs-low-profile-discrimination-gender-segregation-cafes

http://www.dailywire.com/news/12159/video-muslim-migrants-france-segregate-suburbs-amanda-prestigiacomo

Related Reading:

http://thefederalist.com/2018/05/02/5-ways-left-already-brought-handmaids-tale-life/

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/04/28/ayaan-hirsi-ali-female-genital-mutilation-and-what-were-really-talking-about-beneath-weasel-words-genital-cutting.html

http://thefederalist.com/2017/05/03/handmaids-tale-accidentally-gets-right-sex/

http://thefederalist.com/2017/04/27/handmaids-tale-isnt-christianity-conservatives-fundamentalism/

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