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Sunday, November 30, 2003

Why do we suffer?

If God is “good” then why do people suffer? Why doesn’t God bless everyone, and protect everyone? Why do bad things happen to good people, even “God fearing people?” These are the questions I’m hearing from some of the young adults here. What this tells me is that first they don’t have much faith, and second, they don’t understand the forces at work in the world. If God can do anything, then why does he allow Satan to continue horrible things on Earth? God must not be a very loving God if these things are allowed to happen; I would never allow these things to happen to my children.

The reason we have suffering in the world is because God created humans and angels with free will. God wants to have such intimate relationships with his creation that he gives us free will so we make the choice to have a relationship with him. Without free will we can not genuinely love God or anything else for that matter. God created Satan, as a beautiful creation, but Satan decided he wanted everything which belonged to God, including the relationships. When God created humans he gave us the choice to follow him, he even told us not to do certain things (just as any good parent would do), he didn’t just put us here without any boundaries and expected us to do what was right, he told us what was right and wrong. But we have free will, so we did as we wanted (as most children will do, until they learn their lesson). Satan came and offered something which sounded better than the boundaries God had setup. And because of our selfish nature we did as God told us not to do.

Once you were dead, doomed forever because of your many sins. You used to live just like the rest of the world, full of sin, obeying Satan, the mighty prince of the power of the air. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passions and desires of our evil nature. We were born with an evil nature, and we were under God's anger just like everyone else.
But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so very much, that even while we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God's special favor that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ, and we are seated with him in the heavenly realms--all because we are one with Christ Jesus. And so God can always point to us as examples of the incredible wealth of his favor and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us through Christ Jesus. [Ephesians 2:1-7]
Everyday we have the choice to follow God, as his ways are written, we have the choice. The wrong choices come with consequences, sometimes it means innocent people will be hurt, sometimes even killed. But because God came as Jesus to experience all our same temptations, and to experience the suffering for all of us, and he took on the pain of sin (the pain of all the consequences of sin) of every human soul we can live in freedom that all this suffering is for a greater life ahead of us. This life is only temporary, Satan is the prince of this world, we are in enemy-occupied territory. Satan does not want us to experience the goodness of God, and he uses us for his own pleasure, which creates suffering for us. Yes God could come and stop it all, but then we wouldn’t need him, just as in the Old Testament we would soon forget all that he does for us, and then turn to our selfish desires, and more suffering would continue. We make the choice to be happy, by following God, just as Carly pointed out, it is our choice, and always will be. I have experienced many different things to be depressed about, but I have discovered living for Jesus has a much better consequence! That is why Jesus came, to forever rescue us, as individuals to be Holy people who have a direct relationship with God, but we must choose to follow him, and allow his Spirit to live in us, and work through us, this is joy, this is happiness, and this is true relationship with our creator.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Gotta have faith

To do effective ministry it needs to be personally applicable and relative. My question is how does this happen? Tonight was our young adults group, I think overall it went just fine. But I get the feeling that sometimes what we talk about is not applicable and relative to the lives of the young adults here. The topic tonight (and for the next four meetings) is the Holy Spirit, there have been a number of questions coming from people, so we are addressing those questions, but I believe there is something else missing. In my observation the element missing is faith, almost all of the questions are more of a question of faith than the actual subject of the question. “If I don’t feel it (the Holy Spirit) then how can I know its there?”, “How do we know it’s not just a confidence (in reference to God guiding our lives to meet certain people)?”, “How do we know (for sure is implied) that God wants to talk to us?” Each of these questions is because of a lack of faith, I tried to explain that God’s Spirit is like the wind, you can see and feel the effects of the wind, but you can’t see it. But that just brought up more questions.

What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see. God gave his approval to people in days of old because of their faith.
By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God's command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.
It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. God accepted Abel's offering to show that he was a righteous man. And although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us because of his faith.
It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying--"suddenly he disappeared because God took him." But before he was taken up, he was approved as pleasing to God. So, you see, it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him…
...All these faithful ones died without receiving what God had promised them, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed the promises of God. They agreed that they were no more than foreigners and nomads here on earth. And obviously people who talk like that are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had meant the country they came from, they would have found a way to go back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a heavenly city for them. [Hebrews 11:1-6, 13-16]
I think what is missing is that they don’t see our faith, they don’t know our faith, how can they know what faith looks like if they don’t witness it. Faith is the biggest, and most mysterious, and the most controversial part of Christianity, it requires believing in the presence of something with out the physical evidence. The one way I came to learn about faith was witnessing it in the lives of others; therefore, I believe God is calling me to witness my faith to these people. I’ve arranged with three of them to have coffee, no agenda, just simply a time for them to ask questions, maybe talk about other things, for them to get to know me, not for me to get to know them (although I’m sure it’ll happen). I want to be available for anything, I want them to know they can call me, and I will come. I love them; I need to tell them that. So, how do I do this? Does anyone have any advice? Any good books? How to do personal ministry? Examples everyday faith? Life-applicable faith stories? This is a call for help! I know some amazing things are going to be happening, I just don’t know what, but that’s faith isn’t it eh? Be blessed and go fourth.

Controlling temptation…

This should be an oxymoron, you can’t control temptation, it controls you. But you can choose to focus somewhere else, so it doesn’t have the chance to control you. Every time I try to control any kind of temptation I end up falling to the temptation. But if I become tempted for something but remember to focus my thoughts on serving someone else, then the temptation looses its grip and goes away. Every time I fall it’s because I tried to control the temptation or I just simply gave in, because I focused on the temptation rather than serving someone else. I know I will fall sometimes, for I am a sinner through and through, but by the grace and mercy of God I am forgiven, and I can serve others to avoid temptation, serving others rather than myself is always a bigger pleasure anyway!

Then Jesus was led out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted there by the Devil. For forty days and forty nights he ate nothing and became very hungry. Then the Devil came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, change these stones into loaves of bread."
But Jesus told him, "No! The Scriptures say,

`People need more than bread for their life;
they must feed on every word of God.' "
Then the Devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, "If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say,

`He orders his angels to protect you.
And they will hold you with their hands
to keep you from striking your foot on a stone.' "
Jesus responded, "The Scriptures also say, `Do not test the Lord your God.' "
Next the Devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him the nations of the world and all their glory. "I will give it all to you," he said, "if you will only kneel down and worship me."
"Get out of here, Satan," Jesus told him. "For the Scriptures say,

`You must worship the Lord your God;
serve only him.' "
Then the Devil went away, and angels came and cared for Jesus. [Mathew 4:1-11]
Can you believe that? Even Jesus was tempted! And low and behold the bottom line when it came to overcoming Satan’s temptation… “People need more than bread for their life; they must feed on every word of God” and “You must worship the Lord your God; serve only him”.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Building relationships...

I had a splendid Thanksgiving meal tonight, all the usuals, and we had great fun playing Taboo! and Outburst! I love those games. I think it was good for everyone; we all got along, and just had a great time building relationships. My next step in building the relationships is to go out and have coffee, tea, or just go to some of the local pubs (which are not taboo as it generally is in the States) and simply talk, not about any specific, hopefully God, but the main point will be relationship building, and that’s that.

Here is some commentary from an Iraqi in Baghdad on Bush’s thanksgiving visit, I thought it was interesting. I pray that over time more Christians can visit Iraq and build relationship too. For all Iraqis – Be blessed, look forward to God, ask, seek, and knock and he will lead you to the truth, then go fourth.

Thanksgiving is tonight for me!

Some things never change! Such as getting sick every Thanksgiving! Yes, right now I’m sniffling, coughing, and a little on the miserable side. But it’s not enough to keep me from enjoying one of my favorite holidays. Thanksgiving this year is a little different, since I’m celebrating it today, and not yesterday, plus I’m a few continents and a rather large ocean away from Seattle. But I’m not sad, I do wish I could have Thanksgiving with some of my friends from home, but I gave a good number of them a call yesterday, I tried to call Alexis but apparently her mother’s house does not accept calls on Thanksgiving, but she called me in the morning, so that was good. So I hope all the Americans had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Tonight we have the opportunity to witness just how thankful we truly are for God almighty; it’s not just a surface thing. I would appreciate prayer for words of wisdom, and words which will speak to the hearts of these girls who are searching so hard. The biggest hurdle for them is they see all the problems, hurt, and bad things in the world as God’s fault – “If God can do anything, then why doesn’t he change the world” – is their common reason for not trusting and loving God. I believe the Holy Spirit has given me something to say, I just pray that I can say it at the right time, without offending them, and in a loving manner which they can see God speaking through me, and it’s not me. God is with us, not against us, Satan is against us. So, thank you for encouraging me, praying, providing support (in more ways than one). God’s kingdom culture will prevail! Be blessed and go fourth.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Thanksgiving in Iraq with the President!

The president had Thanksgiving Dinner in Baghdad! It was kept top secret, but I find it to be awesome, this is completely awesome in my opinion, he may not be the best president but I think this says a lot about his character! I am proud to be an American today (ask me again tomorrow).

Thanks to

Thanksgiving in Poland...

Poland does not celebrate thanksgiving, although I think it could be an international holiday, we all have something to give thanks for. Alexis called me at 8am this morning (11pm Seattle pacific time) to wish me a Happy Thanksgiving! It was great, although it did wake me up, but that’s okay She’s awesome, and I’m hoping to hear from her later tonight. I’m a little under the weather, every year I have some kind of cold or sore throat around thanksgiving, apparently it doesn’t matter where I am in the world, it’ll just happen. Then in a completely kingdom culture kind of way, Mike Utech from Consistently Chili called me about 20 min ago! Yes, someone I’ve never met, the blogosphere is truly a different kind of world. At first I was quite confused as to whom he was, then the bell rang, and I was floored, I think I must’ve sounded a little “not together”, well because I was, I just sat down at the computer. Thanks Mike, one the coolest things to happen since I’ve been here!

I will be celebrating Thanksgiving with Carol, Denise, Sabina (the girl whose cards I still need to post, so you can buy ‘em), Kate, Bozcenna, and Christ tomorrow evening. It should be a great evening of fun, and fellowship, and witnessing, a few of those girls need a little TLC and Jesus.

I am thankful everyday, for the internet and technology (truly I am, w/o it I wouldn’t be able to call back home nearly as much, or research things for our young adults group, or countless other things, not to mention the support and communication I receive/give from the blogosphere and of course the ability to have my entire CD collection in the size of a box slightly larger than a deck of cards!). I am thankful for my family, who I will be calling later today too. I am thankful for Alexis; it’s hard to imagine being here w/o her. I am thankful for my buddy Matt; it’s also strange to imagine being here w/o his support. I am thankful for God for the wonderful life which has been provided for me, not the materialistic things, or even the people in my life, but for the sense of purpose, direction, and hope.

Dear Jesus,
I am unable to pay back the debt which I owe you, but you don’t want me to pay back the debt, you want me to pay it forward, to others by service. You are incredible; you are more good every day. Although I have much to change in my life, many areas where I am not worshiping you, you still continue to bless me, and give me a hopeful future. Thank you, for everything, for this life, for my friends and family. But thank you for being who you are.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

One year old, new morph in design.

Well, Food For Fish turned one, so I morphed the design... again. What do you think? I think I actually will keep this for a while. Be blessed.

God or No God? Choose.

and you...
God exsists God does not exsist
Believe in God of the bible Live a life with purpose - unconditional love & hope - and Eternal life Live a life with purpose - unconditional love & hope - and have nothing to lose
Don't believe in God of the bible Life has no purpose - NO unconditional love or hope- Eternal Seperation Life has no purpose - NO unconditional love or hope - Nothing to lose

Happy birthday to Food for Fish!

In an amazing defeat to procrastination and laziness, the author of “Food for fish” Travis Mielonen, has managed to keep Food for Fish alive for one year. The appearance of the site has changed a number times, even at one point leaving out the authors favorite color of blue and turning to a red/tan theme, there was also the infamous orange/blue theme, but that didn’t last long at the request of the visitors.

A quick history of events at Food for Fish (unfortunately my comments only go back 6 months, I don't know what happened): You can find the first post here, referring to one of the hugest struggles in Travis’ life. Here is the result of a pretty funny quiz (in retrospect), I think sticking it out has worked just fine! Here is an “about me” post. Here is one version of my testimony. My heart pouring out here. A bizarre nightmare I had. My favorite peace of creative work (its not that great, but I like it). Another version of my testimony. My “Creed” parts one, two, and three. One of the most amazing nights (with some other random pictures). A time with Carly I won’t forget. This is pretty funny now… being called w/o being equipped? This surely applies still to this day! This is what I miss the most. A different view of God. Its been a while since I’ve struggled hard core with this problem, I still get hits to Food for Fish from the “Lust” oneword link. We are a world apart, but still together, God is so good. Thoughts on homosexualityThoughts on Alexis… I still haven’t kissed her, but the rest is history (or will be history). Confirmation on Poland, yep it was true. Two people I miss dearly, and that night was just the beginning. And now I’m here. And another view of God. One of my first breakdown moments here. Switzerland, will always be one of my best memories in Europe. Another one of my meltdowns... but all is well now.

So, I’m very happy with where I am, and I know God has many more things in store for me. Thanks for the prayers, the support, just being somehow involved in my life, even if it just “lurking” here, and I don’t even know you.

Lord Jesus, I give thanks to every person who has ever had any kind impact on my life, good and bad, that is what shapes us. All honor and glory to you, all praise and thanks to you, with out you nothing is good. I pray for all of my friends and family to be drawn closer to you, in a way which impacts their life, and therefore they can impact the lives of others. In Jesus’ name, thank you Lord. Make it so, amen.

UPDATE: I had a lot of broken links, links to wrong posts, they are fixed now. I got my iPhone to work great now! It was the stupid built in WindowsXP firewall! So give me a call anytime between 11pm and 3:30pm Seattle Pacific Time! The number is on the left on my sidebar under church plant info.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

The meaning of life

I’ve discovered the meaning of life, well, a while ago I did, but I’ve just now realized that I know it. The meaning of life is to do what we were created to do. I remember a few years ago I didn’t know what I was here for. All the questions… Who am I? What am I going to do? Why am I here? No one seemed to have an answer, not even “the church”, or “Christians”. I say both of those in quotes because it was the church and Christians who brought me where I am today, but it was only God who let me know what the meaning of life is. Each person’s life is different, everyone has different abilities, different talents, and different personalities, and most of all, and we all have different experiences which make us who we are.

We were created for some very specific tasks, but we make the choice to fulfill these tasks, otherwise how would it be genuine meaning? We were created to worship God, which is to acknowledge God’s work in everything we do. We were created to serve others, to do what we can (and even beyond what we think we can) to meet the needs, and go beyond the needs of others. We were created to live for eternity, forever, we were meant for so much more, but we make the choice, once again our God loves us so much, he has let us free to do what we want, to love, or ignore God. Because we have the choice, it is our duty (if we have made the choice to live for eternity) to at least let others know they have the same choice (not make them choose, just let them know) through Jesus Christ. We are meant to live in the family of God, to discuss, serve, be served, learn, and teach to and from others who have made the choice to follow God. We are meant to live as Jesus did, we are meant to always be reflecting his life, his ministry, and his love to others.

This is the meaning of life. Everything else which falls under these basic principles will only bring great love and joy into your life, it has for me.

I now have a local Seattle number ($11/1000 min a month, no cost to you!) it is: (206) 219-0605. Call anytime between 1am and 3:30pm Pacific time!

Monday, November 24, 2003

I hate technology which isn’t consistent

So, I’m using internet phone service. It is (w/o a contract) $11/month for 1000 min, plus I also have a local Seattle number people can call, no charge to them (for an additional $8, don’t know if I’m going to keep that, based on the account you'll read further on). Yesterday it worked great; I talked to Matt, Leanne (my old youth pastor) and Alexis, for a total of 4 hours! It was great, not a single disconnect or anything. The quality was great, although I didn’t like being tied down by the wires to my computer, but that’s a small sacrifice.

Today – notta, zilch, not even 10 seconds. I hate it, this is what frustrates me more than anything else (and I mean anything)… Technology should be consistent, especially when I’m paying for it as a service. Now I realize there are many different factors as to why it may not be working today (I was a network specialist in my previous job), but I can’t even find a “network” status site for, this upsets me. I want to at least know if it is a problem on their side or mine or somewhere in between, then my frustration will go away. I am a troubleshooter, but when I don’t have the resources to troubleshoot, I get frustrated. The most frustrating part is that I can’t call T-Mobile to order a new phone (my phone, which Alexis has, is broken now).

Yesterday I was a happy camper, today, very disgruntled. In situations like this (when the object of my frustration is an inanimate object I feel I understand confidently) the anger rises up to the point I just want to curse, and kick, and basically be like a mad scientist. It’s always in private, that’s what I hate, sometimes I’ll take it out on a person who may wonder into my war with the machine, but I am quickly overwhelmed by guilt and will apologize (at least when I’m not so upset I don’t even notice the person, sorry if I haven’t).

UPDATE: It's working now, yay! But it's 12:20am... oh well its not that bad in Seattle

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Interesting thoughts on the United States…

The ideas presented below, I believe, are not just “American” ideas, but are ideas which we should all embrace. The foundation on which the United States was built upon has created a system in which we can freely worship God, or freely ignore him. This is the only kind of system which can be possible; otherwise it is fake and artificial. Take the time to read through these excerpts of the “Charters of Freedom

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security… We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States… [The Declaration of Independence]

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. [The opening of the U.S. Constitution]

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. [The infamous freedom of speech and “separation of church and state” amendment]

Selected text from George Bush SR’s State of the Union Address Jan 31, 1990 (To be read with emphasis, hyphens – create dramatic pause, bold words emphasized, /// longer pauses for effect)







It seems we “Americans” have left our original text somewhere behind, just as some of us “Christians” have left our original text. We must know the culture in which the text was written, and understand what it meant to them, and that those ideas still apply to us today.

The Government is meant to serve the people, not for the people to serve the Government. Our Lord, Jesus, came to serve us and set us free; so we can live in even deeper security and greater freedom with God.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

God-centered romance.



One year ago I didn't even know her. One year ago I was struggling with not having a "girlfriend" or better yet a wife. So after struggling with it for a while, I decided to just give up looking, I needed to be content with God, and be genuine with my own problems. But I knew one thing; I wasn't going to just "settle" on the next girl I was "interested" in, that would be injustice to her, and to myself. So I became secure in myself, and secure in my relationship with Jesus. That was last November, this November I'm now happily courting Alexis, even though we are separated by one and half continents and the Atlantic Ocean. Although all odds are against us, we are for God; therefore the odds really are for us. Since the very first time I spoke with Alexis I knew she loved Christ, which for me was extremely important in any girl I would even consider courting, not to mention marry.

I remember one day in March 2003 after Mill Creek young adults, we all went to Apple Bees for some dinner and fun. I remember Alexis was sitting across the table from me, and I couldn't remember her name (she was fairly new to the group), her brother was sitting to the right of me, and another guy from our group was sitting on the left of me. All night I thought she hated me or something, like I was some kind of dirty guy hitting on her (I remember trying not to make eye contact with her, so she wouldn't think I "liked" her). I left Apple Bees that night with out ever thinking anything about her, just that she must not like guys or something. From that day I was very cautious around her. It turns out the guy on my left was giving her signals, that she just didn't appreciate, so she was letting her brother know, but I was receiving those same signals, but didn't know what they meant, and I interpreted them as "who do you think you are?".

A few weeks later we went to Red Robin after MCYA and I again sat across from Alexis, and I found myself talking to her, about God, and Romance, and we got on the subject of "how would you propose?" it was a group conversation, not just the two of us... and I told her this idea. Then it was crazy, I found myself flirting with her, and she flirted back... this was new territory for me, but I wasn't nervous, nor did I ever regret it. For the next three months we get to know each other, we find out we share a lot of different life experiences, some of which are very significant. Then I'm invited on a random trip with Ryan and Alexis to the Grand Coulee Dam area in Eastern Washington, along with Ryan's parents, it was a blast, but at the beginning of the weekend, I had no idea what the end of the weekend would mean.

The rest is history, I find myself more in love with Alexis each day, and I give God all the glory and thanks. The reason we have never kissed is because both of us understand the commitment which comes with physical intimacy (we have held hands, and we have cuddled on occasion). God's amazing role of female-male partnership is to become even more like God, when two become one, it's because God is both male and female, we become one when we are married to become more like God and to share the two distinct roles God plays in our lives. The kiss is just the beginning of this union; it is something very deep and very sacred to both of us.

Thank you Lord, for Alexis, and for those who will guide us into an even deeper God-centered relationship which we can serve others with for you.

PS. Chai Spice black tea is Alexis' favorite tea, and its what I'm drinking right now.

Friday, November 21, 2003

A nice cold shower with God.

Well after last nights little melt down (which is happening pretty regularly about once a month now), I cried out to God to just take it. Boy did I cry, I was sobbing for at least an hour, I simply can not do anything here without him. If I really want to be a part of people’s lives here, I have to give up Seattle, I have to give up the wonderful fellowship I had back home, and focus on HERE. I need to always be praying to God, and always be giving it to him. I can’t hold onto home or people from home any longer, God put me here, if I don’t get any fellowship in terms of with people, then I’ll get it with God, and that is the best kind. After I truly confessed all this to God, I felt so clean and good inside. I feel I have gone one more step; one more dot has been connected. Thank you God! I feel slightly different today, it’s a good change. Thanks for praying, and thanks for just listening to my struggles. When you feel like your in the desert, don't just "tell" God but cry out to him, there is something cleansing and releasing about crying.

This is just another day to die again.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

My attitude stinks

So, the post below was not the most encouraging thing to write about, and it goes completely against my recent discovery of problem solving. I’ve realized that this is just the same as any other issue I’ve ever had in life. Instead of clinging to the problem, and focusing on it, and just dwelling on it, I need to turn my focus to God. I need to turn my focus to really creating relationships with people here. I have no excuses, except laziness, and some fear too.

I know I’m not cut out for full time missionary work. I believe I’m really more of a discipler than I am an evangelizer. I am much better at answering questions about someone’s current state of faith, than I am at leading someone to Jesus. I am much better at having conversations about God with other Christians, than I am with someone who doesn’t know God. Evangelizing is just not one of my gifts, I am very appreciative of people who can do those things, who can lead people to the point where they can make the choice to have Jesus be the Lord of their life, but don’t expect me to, except by the Holy Spirit.

I am not someone who hides their feelings (anymore), I have no problem wearing my heart on my sleeve (er, blog). Believe me, it is guarded though, I don’t get hurt too easily (anymore), I understand when people want me to learn something, I understand when God is stretching me, and I don’t get defensive over things anymore. I want to be someone anyone can talk to, I enjoy just listening, and I enjoy just being a friend… I truly believe that if someone lives a life for Christ, then just the love of God will draw people to that person, and ultimately to Christ.

Lord Jesus,

Expand my mind, change my attitude, make me unsatisfied with where I am. I do not want to be silent anymore; I will not be quiet anymore. Lord, the cry of my heart is to know you best. Help me to be a part of the Polish culture, not an American anomaly. I ask for you to make me sensitive to the needs of people here, to be a servant to them, make me less than them. Lord I thank you for Joanna, for having her come upon this little blog, and for giving her the words I needed to hear. Thank you for using people such as her in my life, and keep my heart open to hearing your words. I’ve always said I was here to understand them, but I never did anything, which is foolish, I must work to make it happen. I have lots to do, help me learn the language, help me become something different. Holy Spirit take control.

In Jesus name, make it so, Amen.

PS. On the sidebar (at left) under "Zakopane, Poland Church Plant Info" I've added links to a Zakopane webcam, and my own webcam.

Oh God, be near.

I’m feeling spiritually dull right now. I have no energy in the mornings, I read the words in my bible, but I don’t feel the words. I’m not falling, but I’m not moving either. I’m just sort of camping, and I don’t know if I can do anything about it. I’m in the dessert, wondering around, thirsty for truth, for light, for something new. I don’t know how Christians here survive, where do they get their fellowship? Where are they? I am such a people person; it’s so hard to not be around people all day long. I need to fellowship with God, I need the motivation to get up and seek him, seek him with all my heart. I know what I need to do, but every morning I just lie in bed, and my attitude stinks.

Give me the motivation, the energy, and the heart to keep on climbing.
I want to be with you, I don’t want to ignore you any longer.
I am pouring my heart out; I have no words, just feelings.
Thank you for all you have done, thank you.
Only you can fulfill my desire for fellowship.
Free me, free me, free me from my fears.
Oh God, I want to feel near you again.
Lord only you can brig me peace.
Holy Spirit, take control.
Deep with in my soul.
Fan the flame inside.
Burn fire burn.
Oh God.
Be near.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

The upper room: Good discussion, good fun, one click forward.

Tonight was our first “upper room night”. I think it went very well, very casual, but a definite time to just talk, and start to break down some of the walls. The topic for tonight was “authenticity”, what it is, how do we cultivate it in our group, and what does it mean for our relationship with God. Some of the conclusions we came to were:

    1- Be real, at least with our group, let’s realize we are human, and we all struggle with something.
    2 – We can start to grow “being real” by building trust with each other, and when it comes to our weaknesses we can encourage each other to let God turn it into strength.
    3 – Being real with God, is all that he wants, if we are not real with him, we can’t have a deep relationship, just like we can’t have a deep relationship with a person who is not real with us.

It was a little hard at first getting them to talk, and really go beyond themselves, but with a little prodding we really began to define how our group will be authentic with each other, and with God. I didn’t start the day out on the best foot (sleeping in until 1pm, doesn’t give one enough time to do much). But I think with enough preparation, each time will become a time to truly be a connected group. Thanks for your prayers – the young adults of Zakopane are really the ones benefiting. Next time: Mutuality - Encouraging each other.

I am Ephesians... and I am Washington DC...

You are Ephesians

Which book of the Bible are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
I think its pretty acurate, what do my friends think? eh?

Congratulations, you're Washington, DC., the capitol of the United States.
What US city are you? Take the quiz by Girlwithagun.

As JFK said, DC is a city of southern efficiency and northern charm. He was wrong about the charm. From the cherry blossoms to the Potomac, this historic city is liberally painted with landmarks and attractions. Home to one of the most powerful governments in the world, this patriotic city is a crowded flux of transient residents, permanent residents, and commuters alike. A tourist Mecca twelve months a year, this bustling city is never short on people.

Grrr.. I wanted to be Seattle.

I found both of these over at Consistently Chili, thanks Mike.

Morning motivation...

How do you get motivated to wake up in the morning? Especially when you don’t have anywhere to go, or anyone making you be somewhere? I have hated mornings ever since I graduated high school (I had to get up early for Jazz band). Since then I've always woke up at the last possible second before having to go or do something (most of the time that was getting to work). But now here, I don’t have a set schedule except on Mondays where I travel to Carol and Denise’s (which I enjoy). Chris goes off to work, so there isn’t anyone here to talk to in the mornings, so usually my alarm goes off at 9:15, I turn it off, and fall back to sleep, wake up again at noon to the church bells just outside my window, then I usually lay in bed, and go in and out of sleep, until about 1 or 2… THIS IS SICK. I have a to do list, I have things to do, but I always tell myself “they can be done anytime” and I end up procrastinating until they have to be done, which some of things don’t have a due date, I’m just doing them to do them (such as making some Christmas gifts, and things like that). I also wrote down some personal goals, but I’ve hardly even thought about them. I guess it comes down to making a weekly schedule, with times I should get up, and what to do. But I can just see myself waking up, and saying to myself “it can wait”. I am the biggest procrastinator I know. Tonight I'll be making (hopefully) weekly appointments with each of the yong adults just to have coffee, people are always a good motivation for me. So, any suggestions?

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Just let it go

That is what we are learning here as a ministry team. The last few weeks we have been battling a lot of “bad religion”, lots of legalism, and disappointment (them in us, and us in them). It all started after the “Halloween” party we had, it was designed as an outreach, there weren’t any witches, there weren’t any skeletons, and their wasn’t any nasty “demons”. But a leader in our church said his children were not coming because he “knew what we do at those kinds of things”, as if we were worshiping Satan, give us a break, where is the trust? Since that day, we have been putting out the fires he’s been starting with other members, we even had one person tell us she didn’t like that we had witches, and skeletons at the party, WE DIDN’T! So, either this is coming out their heads, or someone is spreading rumors, either way it’s dividing people in the church, and causing a lot of hurt feelings and harm. But we are just letting it go.

We are not going to sit here and argue to the ends of the Earth… we don’t need to; we worship only Jesus, so why do we need to defend ourselves? Most of this thinking comes from a very messed up Pentecostal movement in Poland (Poland only, and only here in Poland, not Pentecostalism in general) which constantly calls the Catholic church the “cult of Mary”, and is always praying for revival, but won’t mix with “sinners” because it will taint their “holiness”. This “churchtian” attitude is so strong, and it is driven mostly by fear – if you don’t live a “holy enough” life, you’ll go to hell. So, in order to stay “holy” they don’t celebrate ANYTHING, no birthdays, no Halloween, no Christmas, nothing; “We should be celebrating Jesus everyday, and nothing else” – I say NO, we should be worshiping Jesus everyday, and doing as he said and bringing his light and hope to those who do not know him – that means going where they are!

So, we are letting it go, if they want to think those things, that’s okay, but they won’t be a part of the leadership anymore, because it doesn’t fit our vision. It is too much for us to try and discuss our ideas, they are stuck in their own ways. We came to each of them and asked “Where is God leading you to serve?”, only two out of the eight were able to say where they thought God was leading them; the rest said “You’re the leaders you tell me”. We will be presenting a “church” vision series over the next couple of Sundays, and really establishing our vision. After that period, they can decide to come under the vision, or simply leave, start their own church, we don’t care, worship the way you want. We love each of them, and we really wish they could be free of their religious rules and regulations. It may take some time for some of them, but we believe in the end they will discover the wholeness of living a life with out religion, and being in a dynamic relationship with God.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Confidence, Heartaches, Attitude, & glorifying God

I don’t know the means, or the ends, but God does. God knows just how it will all work out. I know I am God’s, and that I love God. I know I have nothing to worry about, I know this just as I know my heart is beating. I don’t know the future, and I don’t know how it will happen, but I know it is good, and full of hope. I know I will never leave this path I have chosen. Some may think I’m foolish for thinking such thoughts “people fall away from their faith all the time, how can you guarantee you won’t”… I can’t, God does. God tells me I am righteous, I am unconditionally loved, I have a purpose, and that I am his child.

Whatever God has in store for me in the future on Earth, I know will not be anything less than what I have now. Every heartache to come, every moment of fear, all the hurt to come, and all the disappointments to be, will not detour me from the one who has it all, because he has shown me already that all this is used for his glory. As much as I am afraid to have one of my children die before me, I know that it can only be for the glory of God, even though it will be unbelievably hard to bear. Jesus is my king, my lord, and my savior – everything I do, I do it for him.

My heart is sometimes not in the right place, but it comes around, because the great joy of the Holy Spirit is in me, and reminds me to put my thoughts on Christ. Just today at our leaders meeting, I had this horrible thought during our musical worship of “I hate this”; I was referring to the worship! I have NEVER thought that (in my early steps with Jesus I thought it was “strange” but I never hated it), I was too distracted by the actual musical quality, and by the style. It wasn’t “me”, who cares! Worship is for God, not for me. I should only be getting something out of worship if I put something into it, and even then, I shouldn’t expect it! So, after a long 20 or so minutes of this nasty thought, I started reading Psalms, nothing specifically spoke to me, the Holy Spirit simply let me realize my attitude was all wrong.

So, whatever I do in the future, may I never stop making mistakes, or think I’m holier than any other brother or sister. Whatever I do may it always glorify god, and never myself or my church, or anything of this world. May my life only point to God!

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Get to know Jesus

That’s what being a “Christian” is, isn’t it? Then why do people insist on being a “Churchtian”? I’ll tell you what, Jesus didn’t like religion, he consistently rejected the ways of the religious leaders, and he always challenged them. His first miracle was turning water into wine (yes alcohol), but he never got drunk, because when your drunk you have no control of yourself, and you can’t serve others, or honor God. Jesus also did not stay away from the “unholy” people, he ate with sinners (just like you and I), and he stayed in their homes. Jesus was not religious he did not do anything to please anyone but God himself, whom he was. He LOVED all people, he died for ALL of us, and at the moment of his death he felt all of our hurt, all of our sins, he physically and emotionally experienced everything which we experience because of sin. Both our own sins and the effects of the sins people do against us.

I’m not here in Poland for my own good, my own little adventure. I am here only to love others, because God loves me, and I only want others to know God’s love. My heart is aching for so many people, for all those here, who do not realize the love I have is because of God. Satan has such a strong hold on the fears of people in this town, but instead of focusing on those problems, and all of these fears and trying to solve them. I am going to do what God has called me to do, and that is, Love people. I don’t deserve God’s love, so the least I can do is love others, I have a surplus, and I must do something with it. But just like you can't decline a gift, because a gift is a GIFT. I can't delcine God's gift of love. Jesus Christ is the only one I need to please, after that everything else falls into place. It is not always easy, it’s not always milk and honey, but it is the only way. And it is not religion, it is a true relationship with out any conditions, and with out any hurt from God.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Communist Worship

In a room which was probably near 60 degrees F in temperature, and surely was built in the 70s and with a very communist flare to it, God was there. The physical environment may not have been much, but the spiritual environment was once again amazing. Although about half as many people as last night were there, the message was specifically for these people. It was a message of hope and freedom, two things which are not in the Polish culture. True hope, and true freedom, which I think isn’t even in any culture, except for God’s culture. Bob Ware from a Californian church, and Matthias Nowak from a Swiss church both gave this message, the message of God freeing us from rules and regulations, and most of all from religion, and being in a relationship which is full of hope. I believe the people really responded to it, the mass majority of them stayed after the event, and talked, and talked, and talked. I have a feeling we will have quite a number of new faces tomorrow evening.

My prayer for Zakopane, Seattle, and the whole earth:

You said, “ask and you will receive,
Whatever you need”
You said, “pray and I'll hear from heaven,
And I'll heal your land”

You said, “Your glory will fill the Earth,
Like water the seas”
You said, “lift up your eyes
The harvest is here,
The kingdom is near”

You said, “Ask and I'll give the nations to you”
Oh Lord, That's the cry of my heart
Distant shores and the islands will see Your light
As it rises on us

[You Said: by Shane Barnard]

So, I bet the communists who built this place we were in tonight, never thought a group of people would be worshiping Jesus, and even better people from many different nations, and many different “faiths”! AMEN.

Finally I have broadband internet!

YAY! After a month of limited internet access, and then a month of only dial-up internet, I finally have DSL! While not as fast as back home (where I had 1.5mbps cable, and here I have 640k DSL) it is so much faster, and its an always live connection, yay. So, this is great! This is good! Please pray for our outreach tonight, it starts in 2.5 hours!

Friday, November 14, 2003

History made

History was made tonight. In this semi-small town in southern Poland, about 120 people worshiped the Lord; from all walks of “faith”. Catholic, Pentecostal, Foursquare, Baptist, Independent, we were all there. The Catholics and Pentecostal’s have a history of never doing anything together (because each one thinks of the other as some kind of cult), and the others, have been too small to do anything. It was absolutely amazing, all though all the worship was in Polish; I was able to worship with out a problem. God is amazing, absolutely amazing, when people allow him to be!

This was truly a history making event, and the fruits of tonight, we may not know for a long time. It doesn’t matter what your church background is, if you allow God to do something, it will be done. Tonight was so much like the early church! No worries, no bickering, everyone was blessed, and that is what matters, people saw, meet, and came to know Jesus. Now, lets hope for the same kind of turn out, tomorrow night! Be blessed!

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Get to know us.

Bobbing for apples at our harvest party, that’s Denise in the green vest

Creating jack-o-lanterns with the young kids, Piotrek is the one in gray, and he is going to Switzerland for an internship

The kids playing a game at the harvest party

Another kid game, the point was to suck up the Jello and get the candy at the bottom, first team to do so, wins

Annia (a different one, she works, lives in, and goes to school in Warsaw) talking to Chris

Sabina and Borzeta (bad spelling I'm sure)

The young adult girls, now if only they all came on a regular occasion

Prayer time at one of the regular services

Young adults fighting over balloons, I'm on the far left half way in the frame, Chris is in white, Micah behind Chris, and Sabina in purple

The team with Tina-joy, the president of the missions Carol and Denise originally came with

Me enjoying some fine coffee, and studying by candlelight

Worship at our pastor's retreat this week, unity amongst five nationalities, all with a vision for Poland

Near the top of one of the many hiking trails in the area, this was one of the fun activities we did for the pastor's retreat

Most of the people involved with the pastor's retreat - From left to right: Denise (American, here in Zakopane), Matthias (German, living in Switzerland, part of Swiss team), Matthias (German, but Swiss pastor), Andrew (Polish, from Krakow), Carol (American, here in Zakopane), Renate (Wife of Andrew), Ellen (Dutch, wife of Martin, pasturing in Wroclaw Poland), Martin (Dutch, husband of Ellen, pastor in Wroclaw Poland), Marush (bad spelling, possible pastor in city east of Wroclaw), Viola (Wife of Marush), Monika (part of Swiss team), Sylvia (part of Swiss team), Kneeling: Me, and Chris. Not in photo: Bob Ware (foursquare pastor in Thousand Oaks, California), Wukash (Charismatic Catholic pastor in Zakopane area) and his wife Amielka.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Prayer needs...

We just finished with our pastor’s retreat today. The retreat was small, but intentionally small. We invited five couples, to come and be a part of this pastor’s retreat. The retreat was hosted by us, and put on by the pastor of the Swiss church which has taken us under his wing. He brought three others, and together I believe everyone was blessed. Something is going to rock this nation, something is going to explode, and that something is Jesus Christ. The time of worship was amazing, we had people representing five different nations (and four different languages), Poland, Switzerland, Germany, the US, and the Netherlands, the unity which took place is what the culture of God is all about. We had a couple from one of the Charismatic Catholic groups there, and they were absolutely amazing, and the love they portrayed for us, and us for them, really is beginning to heal some of the brokenness which happened here in Poland when the largest “protestant” movement called the catholic church the “Cult of marry”, and refusing to work even with spirit filled Catholics. The kingdom culture was a major theme, no matter where we are the culture of Christ is what makes it known God is working. I don’t mean “Christian” culture, I mean, true family type culture, which only God can create. I truly believe the people of Poland will know us by our love. So that is more of a praise than a prayer request, but the request is that this same spirit continue on, continue on to more and more people coming into a relationship with Christ.

My other prayer request is for two outreaches which are happening on Friday and Saturday. One is being put on by the Catholic charismatic group, and the other by our church. We are of course attending both, and helping out with each, as are the charismatic Catholics with us. I just ask for the same unity we experienced before, and for people to really see Christ, not “Foursquare” or “Catholic” but JESUS. Nothing else matters but the relationship these people have with God.

Thanks again for everything, I really wish I could say as Paul “I give thanks for you everyday”, but I can say this in all truth “I give thanks to you every time I think of you!”, so BE BLESSED.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

I'm doing ministry?

This is very strange for me to accept. I mean, if you were to ask me even just over a year ago if I would be doing ministry, I would have said "well if so, a long time in the future", because I felt like I was too young in my faith, didn't know "enough" of the bible, and so on and so forth. I remember feeling like I wasn't equipped to be sent, but that didn't stop this from happening. I'm feeling very honored, and yet I know I have a great responsibility to do this right, I can't screw around with this. But me? Travis? Doing ministry? Yikies, what does that make me? Nothing but someone with the faith to step into something completely out of my natural comfort zone, if you had only known me even 4 years ago, I was in no way ready to even pray out loud. I'm just overwhelmed with honor, thankfulness, and responsibility, remember when I was asking for confirmation... well it's come, and it actually had already come, but retrospect is always 20/20. Anyway thanks for all your prayers, and support, and I couldn't do it without you, and of course you couldn't do it without God, so that means I couldn't either. I have no idea where this is taking me for the long run, and frankly that excites me, I don't have to worry, I have no reason to, the Lord is good and has compassion for all, what do I have to worry about? NOTHING.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Giving it up

I’m always afraid others will think I have a “holier than thou” attitude, so just as a warning, I certainly do not want to project that, but I feel this is important to share.

Seattle with a decent job, a great car, loving people, and an amazing girlfriend, all in “perfect” working order. I had no real motivation to leave any of these things behind, so why did I leave? I left because I knew I needed to get some place for me to depend on God, for me to go some place where I could experience something completely different and new, where I would have to reach for answers, and extend my ability to serve others. In my heart I knew I couldn’t achieve any of these things in the “milk and honey” atmosphere I had in Seattle. Thankfully with God’s amazing provision, and the incredible support of my loved ones back home, I set off on this adventure I am now apart of.

I may have “given it all up” in a purely material sense, but I still had (and still have) some things to “give up”. My personal problems were not left in Seattle, as much as I had hoped they were they actually got worse here. I had one week where I was falling left and right, I just couldn’t keep my mind pure, and my humane nature just gave in. I kept focusing on the problem, the sin itself, rather than the solution which was simply say “God I can’t do it, take it, let me focus on serving you”… that was it, I learned to give up my problem to God.

I know I have much more of this “giving up” to do, but this is what “dying to yourself” is all about. We must die, we must get on our knees, to live again, and to stand again. I am so serious about this, do not let this be some stupid Christian cliché, it is something you must practice to experience God’s amazing grace and mercy, otherwise if you don’t give yourself up, there is nothing God can do, we have free will. God made us this way, so we could genuinely love him, or genuinely just ignore him, it’s our choice. He knows every one of our steps, which means he knows the outcome of every choice we could ever make, but he doesn’t know which choices we will take, that’s for us to make. Make the choice, die for him, he died for us.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

I don�t deserve friends like you, you�re too good�

Last night wasn�t as I had expected, but it turned out to be a good night of worship and prayer. The turnout ended up only being one of our young adults, she�s also our children�s pastor, so instead of talking about �who is God to you�, we instead prayed for the group, and asked for commitment, and for the group to really begin to feel loved and empowered. It was good, but not what I had hoped for, but the Lord is good.

So, when it came to our regular service tonight, I gave an announcement about our new �upper room nights�, which I�m just advertising as �a special dinner night�. Later we got into our �family� groups (groups which each week serve a different area of ministry) and we prayed for the people to our left. There was a young lady to my left, who I�ve had the pleasure of talking to (she�s an English speaker) recently she came over early before service and we had a good conversation, not about anything �spiritual� but it was good for her to see that we are �normal�. I prayed for God to touch her, and that the next few months would be a time for her experience God�s love in a new amazing way. I think it scared her a little, not in a bad way, but in a way which made her really think. She ended up leaving the service after that. Later on she text messaged Chris and told him �Sorry I wasn�t their on Saturday night, I don�t deserve friends like you, you�re too good�. There is something in her past which makes her think she doesn�t deserve to be loved, or to be recognized as lovable. She�s currently involved with a boyfriend who is working in Chicago, who from all accounts that I�ve seen, does not treat her very well, and does not show any kind of love. From what I understand she knows all this, but still can�t let go of the relationship, in my opinion she is afraid to be �alone�. Anyway, please keep her in your prayers, and I am asking for God�s wisdom in dealing with these kinds of situations. I�ve always been afraid of �cross-sex� ministry, but God has assured me I have nothing to be afraid of. My relationship with Alexis is built on a concrete foundation, and everyone here knows how committed I am to Alexis, so �go forward, if they think other things you�ll know and be able to redirect their feelings/attention in the correct way before its too late�.

In other news, the girl I mentioned in my newsletter who makes the cards got more reassurance today. The Swiss pastor and three of his people are here for our pastor�s retreat we are hosting. One of the women who came told this young lady how awesome the cards are, and she had a list for more �orders� from her friends in Switzerland. The polish girl is so amazed, and I could see a twinkle of hope and amazement in her eyes tonight� I really want to post some pictures for all of you to see, and possibly you can �order� too� she�ll be very surprised, but they are so amazing, hand done, and very tasteful. So, God is working, and expect many amazing things to happen while I�m here. Thank you God, and thanks to all of you, who pray for me, and everyone here. I�m excited, are you?

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Houston, we have a problem...

We seem to be experiencing a little bit of culture shock. The people here say �Well you can do that, your American�, but we say �You can do it! God made us all the same!� They almost make it sound like being American gives you special powers or something, that we can have a relationship like �this� with God because we are American. Even Chris (who is Polish) is under the �American� umbrella because he has spent significant time in the States and understands that we (Carol, Denise and I) are part of God�s culture, which is universal and has no borders.

So, what are my ideas for solutions to these problems? First, over the next couple of months I will talk about the �Kingdome Culture� or God�s culture. I am very excited to start the �upper room� nights on the 3rd Wednesday of each month. The upper room will be a time where each of the young adults brings some kind of dish, like a potluck. Then over dinner we discuss a certain theme, the first nine week we will discuss one of the nine characteristics of biblical fellowship (as mentioned in the Purpose Driven Life). Then after dinner we will have prayer, but not just any prayer, depending on the context of the discussion, and what comes out of it, I will choose someone for each of us to pray for aloud, then we will have worship. I pray this will begin to cultivate a Kingdom Culture in our young adults group. Yes we may come from the nation of the United States, but we are a part of God�s culture, not the American culture, yes we see things differently because of where we have been raised, but in God�s culture all of those differences can be used for good, and for spreading love. I do agree that in the US we have a culture which more easily cultivates the culture of God, but I know it is not impossible to do the same thing here. Further west in Poland there are people who know the Culture of Christ, they live in larger cities though, where new ideas are more welcomed.

To most people in our area we look a little shady because we don�t have a �building�, and because we don�t have a building we must be some kind of cult. So, Houston (that would be you, the reader) keep us in prayer as we look for a place to meet, since having a place will give us creditability, we will soon be looking into real estate and asking churches in the States, Switzerland, and all over Europe to support the buying or renting of a place. The people here just do not make enough money to substantiate such a cost, right now, but I have hope that we will have a self sustaining church. The idea of church here is basically as if we were in the United States in the 50�s. If we have a building, they will come, and hopefully their mentality will change when they feel, hear, and touch the heart of God, our God for all people of the universe. In the name of Jesus, I welcome them to expierence his kingdome and culture!

Friday, November 07, 2003

This is my life�

Am I who I want to be? Is it everything I ever dreamed it would be? Yes I am who I want to be, but I�m completely open to being something more everyday until the day I die. Yes it is everything I dreamed it would ever be, in fact it is completely different and more than I dreamed it would ever be.

I am who I want to be because I am living for Christ, I am experiencing the blessing of stepping out in faith; being away from the magnificent person who God has put me in an intimate relationship with here on Earth, quitting a great job, being away from my great friends and fellowship, and being away from a culture I know and understand (even more so now). Do I think I am �done�, no, we are not turkeys, we do not have a specific time to be in the oven and then be done, just to be devoured, maybe the rest of the world thinks this way, but I do not. I am who I want to be because I have allowed God to shape me, every day I am being changed into a person more like him. Only until that day when I meet our Creator will I be satisfied with who I am, because on that day I hope to hear �Well done my good and faithful servant�, I�m only a servant if my heart is open to changing and loving as God does, not pleasing him by my works, but by loving his people and loving him with my heart.

My life is completely different than I could have ever dreamed it would be, and I know five years from now it will be completely different than I am dreaming now (although some of the things I�m dreaming now, are more likely to happen in five years, than the dreams I dreamed five years ago). Five years ago, I dreamed of being married, having a good house, a good job, and a happy American family (or at least a happy American young couple). But now, while those things are completely possible, I dream only of having meaningful relationships with others, in which I can also bring them this same dream, in which they know who they are, and who they want to be with Christ. I dream that Alexis and I (as long as Jesus is at the center, our relatoinship will work) can be in a relationship which screams �Something is different here�, in which other couples, other people say �I want what they have�, and in which we can reply �First, be happy with being single, get to know yourself and God, and build your relationship with God first, be content, see what God has for you� with out it being Clich�! Because we want to have meaningful relationships with others.

We (living Christ followers) are God�s hands, feet, and voice to a world which does not know him. Only we can plant the seeds, let God do the growing, and we do the harvesting, and God does the digesting with the fruit. We were made in the image of God, male and female, we like praise, so does god, we enjoy being thanked for our work, so does God, we must feel loved by others, and God must be loved by us for him to know us � do you really know anyone you don�t love? I would say no.

Inspired by the words of "This is your life" by Switchfoot.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

My heart crys out...

My heart is breaking for the young adults of Zakopane. I see so much negativity, so much heart ache, and so much hurt in their lives. This area is so religious, we live right across the street from a catholic chapel, and every day I see people walk by and do the little cross sign on their chests. When I talk to some of the young people though, it is so obvious to me that they want more than just religion. But they are so afraid of upsetting their families, they are incredibly dependent on them, which could be a very awesome thing, if it weren�t so damaging to their self identity. The people I know here who are on fire for God have realized their own self identity, and mostly live away from home. To tell you the truth I am frustrated, but I believe in a good way, I know this is going to require patience and we are not going to have an overnight revival. I want to make a deep relationship with each one of them, but the culture here is setup in such a way that most people make friends while they are very young, and that�s it, they don�t make new friends, because they don�t move around, like we do in the states. Sometimes I�m nearly in tears because I just want to see a smile on their faces, but instead they frown, don�t make eye contact, and are so hopeless. As I�ve mentioned in my newsletters a common saying around here is �Hope is the mother of stupidity�, how do you explain a God who gives you a hope and a future when your mentality is based on some saying like that?

Communism destroyed the ability for people to make their own decisions, it was safer not to make choices, but let the government do it for you. I�m seeing this still in the young people, even though they have lived in �freedom� for many years now, it is still a part of their culture. They feel they have no control over their lives, life is like a deck of cards, and you just have to play what you are dealt. I just want to enable them to choose their own future, have them realize that God is a dynamic God who cares about every detail of your life. There are only two young adults in our group who have a loving relationship with Christ (plus the leaders), the rest I know have other walls keeping them from knowing him. There is such heaviness here, I have come to be a light, and a light I will be.

This Saturday I�m leading the young adults group, and I think I�m going to ask them questions, to get a feeling of where they are at with God. We must meet them where they are. I think I�ll start with each of them writing down who God is to them, what they want to know about God, what about God hurts them, and how can they be personally served by us (me, Chris, Carol and Denise). Then I will ask them to share a few things they wrote down. I think I�m going to use some music too, such as Thirdday�s �Love Song�, Lifehouse�s �Hanging by a moment� and Lifehouses�s �Everything�. Each of these songs portrays man�s need for God, and God�s need for man (Yes God needs us, he desires relatoinship with all of us, he is full of love for all of us, and wants that love to be given back, just as any of us want our loved ones to love us back). The point of the night will be to look into their hearts, and for them to see the heart of God.

This is the cry of my heart; this is why I�m here!

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Newsletter 2

Here is my second newsletter, please read, it includes my financial status, along with some other important information. Most of all it includes my prayer requests and what i'm doing here.

Here is newsletter number 1.

I'm still waiting for some comments on this post.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

To be or not to be? This is the question.

To be what? A real, relevant, relational, servant of Christ. God revealed something to me a while back on a nice sunny Seattle afternoon, but only Alexis knows what that is. I haven�t really looked for confirmation of what was revealed, but today I was feeling the need for confirmation. So, I come here, to this wonderful little medium, known as the internet. So if you know me personally, I would like to hear whatever you have to tell, good or bad, critical or encouraging, whatever is on your heart, what do you see Travis� future holding? If you don�t know me personally, but feel like God has put something on your heart, of course please share.

Monday, November 03, 2003


Between people arguing about weather or not doing an outreach on Halloween is �right� and finally getting our DSL connection, only to discover it doesn�t work, I am simply frustrated. I am going to bed, and will hopefully have a clear head in the morning. God has a plan, I just need to remember where he put it... j/k life isn't that bad, it is just tiring.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Just what I thought...

Take a look at this article over at Blogs4God, it sums up my thoughts exsactly.

A day of reflection

Yesterday was a day of reflection. A day for me to just relax, not be worried about getting anything done, and vent some much needed frustration to some of the closest people to me. I had some great conversations with my bud Matt, Leanne (my youth pastor from high school), and Alexis (this morning). Each one of them confirmed that I really am where I am suppose to be (I was completely doubting, but I surely wanted to be with them, rather than by myself here). With Chris being gone for the weekend, and having no car, I really had no where to go� It�s true I could have gone downtown (it�s only a 15 min walk) but it was �All Saints Day� and basically everything is closed. So, while I waited for it to be a decent hour in Seattle, I read some books, prayed, listened to some worship music, and just meditated on all the things which brought me here.

This past weekend is a good example of the huge contrasts in emotions I have been going through. On Friday night we had a �harvest party� for the little kids and the later on that night, the young adults which I was in charge of. I was a little stressed by the pace of everything, I like to mingle, simply talk, and let things flow naturally, but others wanted things to go one thing after another, plus when I was back home I was more of the announcements and speaker guy, rather than the games guy for CRU. Near the end I just wanted to quit and go to bed, I wasn�t having much fun and I was just tired. Then we did worship, worship has been another area where I�ve been struggling, but I was disparate to reach out for God this night. So, thankfully all but one of the songs were in English, and I ignored what was going on around me, and worshiped like I haven�t since I was in Seattle (except for when I was in Switzerland).

Near the end Chris did �Open the flood gates of heaven, and let it rain, let it rain), we worshiped to just those words for about 10 min, then God was prompting me to pray what this �Harvest celebration� really was all about. I tried two times to get it out, but both times it was muffled, finally after Chris prayed in Polish, and we did another sting of �let it rain�, it happened. (As I�m typing this Michael W. Smith�s �Let it rain� has come on randomly from my MP3 player!) I just let it come out, with all the passion, and all the confidence I could muster, I was able to let them know �God is ready to harvest our hearts, he�s ready to pour out his refreshing sprit on each and every one of us, the cry of our hearts is for people to know him. The flood gates of heaven are opening, for us, and for others, just focus on reaching God, and you will meet him. The harvest is near, the seeds have been planted, we just need to go out and harvest, and God will rain on us.� I have never prayed outloud with so much confidence, and boldness in my life, I don't even remember everything I said, it was completly lead by the Holy Spirit.

So I may be climbing up the mountain, but as with any mountaineer I need to remember what is at the top, and then remember to go beyond the top, to the creator of this mountain. All glory be onto God.

Lord Jesus,

Open the flood gates of heaven upon all the earth, and let it rain, let the refreshing waters of your spirit, love, and justice pour onto all the people of Earth, I pray for everyone to be looking for you, in a truly relationally way, not intellectually, or scientifically, but in an emotional, heart tugging way. That is the cry of my heart� Let it be. Amen.

by the way, i've added a whole lot of blogs under "departures" take a look, very good reads.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

No one to talk to

If only the phone would ring
If only I had someone to call
My lonely heart is aching
No friendly voices at all

No one to talk to
No one to laugh with
No one to sing with
No one to ponder with

What have I done?
I am not meant to be alone
I wish the sun were here to stay
I would soon be bound for home

The only comfort I have is the sun
I need another
I will be done
With this chapter

I have only One to talk with
I have only One to laugh with
I have only One to sing with
I have only One to ponder with

I am here only for this One
I will not go home