Wednesday, March 31, 2004
When I think about making an impact all kinds of thoughts and images come to mind. The only impact I want to see is the hearts of people change, to see them living a fully changed life, a life that serves the needs of others. God calls all of his believers to be salt to the world, salt in biblical times was used as a preservative, if all who I am is a preservative then I am happy to be. The reason I want these things is that God wants these things. Believe me before I truly knew who God was and allowed him into my life, I had no desire to serve others. He wants the world restored to glory, but because he loves us so much he is letting us do the restoring, some may think that is stupid, I choose to think of it as love. I believe people are mostly good because God created us that way, and because he created us that way I believe we can all make a positive difference, even those who choose not to believe, hopefully they will see God's love in me, and look to God. Even Paul the apostle wrote that "outsiders" should know who we are by the love we show for each other and for God; unfortunately I do not think most Christian's are known for the "love they show."
Posted by TravisM @ 1:34 PM |
It looks like spring is finally coming here. It is almost 50°F outside the sun is out and the Tatra Mountains are looking awesome, and best of all the snow is melting! If it snows again I just might break something, I have officially decided that I will never live in a place where it the snow stays around for more than two weeks. I will visit those kinds of places, but I will never live there ever again. I plan on visiting Zakopane many more times throughout my life, maybe even staying during the summers or springs. I just do not plan to live here again, the operative word being "I".
God has taught me many things about myself, about living in another culture, and about ministry. I have no clue how I will get to where I am 99% sure I am going. The only thing I know is that God has provided for me this entire time I have been here, and I know he will always provide for the future. God has also put many awesome people in my life (believers and non-believers alike) who have supported me, through prayer, advice, financially, and simply being a resource for the people here in Poland. Without the support I would have lost it months ago, it has been very hard, harder than any other time in my life. I have even questioned the existence of God, but in the end it is his character, the people, and the blessings that have proven to me that God loves me.
Personally I have been learning, and I still am, how to intimately fellowship with God. While in Seattle I had, which I now know is rare anywhere, a group of people to worship with, it is because of this group of people that I know I am loved, by God. These people came from many different denominations, backgrounds, strong and weak in their faith, but all wanted to know God more. Without these people, I would have never come to know God as I know him now. I know that I should not return to Seattle expecting to have the group be the same, a part of me expects them to be more in Love, but the other part knows the reality of life. I think my "reentry" into my own culture will be a bit frustrating, but I know it will also be God's way of telling me many things. I am already planning many things to do when I return; one of those things is simply relaxing. In fact if I do not get the job I am looking at, then I will simply take a month or a little more to relax, see things I want, do things I want, talk to people I want. The number one thing I want to be involved in when I return is ministry, somehow, someway.
"There is no judgment awaiting those who trust him. But those who do not trust him have already been judged for not believing in the only Son of God. Their judgment is based on this fact: The light from heaven came into the world, but they loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. They hate the light because they want to sin in the darkness. They stay away from the light for fear their sins will be exposed and they will be punished. But those who do what is right come to the light gladly, so everyone can see that they are doing what God wants." [John 3:18-21]
Posted by TravisM @ 3:57 AM |
Down with all those silly medical myths! Just a bit of wondering around on the Internet before I take a shower.
Posted by TravisM @ 2:35 AM |
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
I thought it was time for some new pictures.
Alexis and Dan Russel (A pastor from Portland-Gresham, OR)
Downtown Zakopane, Krupowki ST
Looking down Krupowki ST
Me at the top of Gubalowka with Zakopane and the Tatra mountains in the background
Looking up Krupowki ST near the market of Zakopane
Posted by TravisM @ 6:39 AM |
Monday, March 29, 2004
I do not like to write long newsletters, and the last one only was half the story (and pretty depressing at that). Therefore, I decided to write newsletter 6.5, take a look. It is much more encouraging, and really does show how God's hand is working in our lives here.
Posted by TravisM @ 2:21 PM |
Sunday, March 28, 2004
Did you know that in 1958 a scientist named Peter Stoner set out to see how likely it was that Jesus fulfilled just eight of the 324 predictions (the messianic prophesies), by accident? These predictions were made hundreds of years before Jesus was even born, they included the location of his birth, what he would do, how he would be betrayed, all with amazing detail making it even harder for someone to "accidentally" fulfill them.
In Peter Stoner's book "Science Speaks" his conclusion is that the likelihood of one person fulfilling just eight of the 324 predictions of the messiah was 1 in 10^17 of being fulfilled by chance. If you took 100,000,000,000,000,000 silver dollars and laid them out over Texas, they would cover the entire land surface of Texas two feet deep. Now, take one of those silver dollars, paint it some color, and toss it into the stack. Mix 'em all up, blindfold some person, tell him/her to walk as far as he/she wants, then pick up only one dollar, it has to be the painted one on the first try. He/She would have a 1 in 10^17 chance of picking that dollar coin. Most state lotteries have a higher chance of being won.
Now, some might argue that the bible has all kinds of contradictions, which on the surface it does appear that way. The article I linked to does not address the fulfillment of prophesies it only addresses the probability of some people's explanation of some of the surface contradictions. It's like comparing apples to oranges. Therefore if these 324 prophesies were fulfilled, and the chance of them being fulfilled by more than one person is so thin, then we have to look at the contradictions in another light. They may appear contradictory to us, but since these prophesies were fulfilled, we have to assume the surface contradictions are not contradictions of God's word but human misunderstanding. Yes, that takes some faith, but it is a logical thing to assume.
Therefore, if you are still with me, and you believe that the science has spoken for God, we have to at least have trust in the rest of the Bible as a whole, and take it as God's way of communicating his full Character. There are many questions, but if you look at the entire Bible as displaying God's character, you will see that the contradictions are not all that contradictory, where he appears "unfair" becomes "fair", but you must look at his character first. Just as you do not judge a book by its cover, a person by their clothes, you cannot judge God based on facts and figures, we are created in his image, which means he too has a personality, just like you and I. Once you know someone's character, it is much easier to see who he or she really is.
Posted by TravisM @ 3:41 AM |
Saturday, March 27, 2004
I just figured out that I only have four and a half months left here in Poland! I am shocked, sad, excited, and annoyed that it is March 27 and it is snowing outside! I know that the next few months will be full of excitement and joy, because I am going to set my sights on heaven and try to bring as many people along as possible. I think with this perspective I will be more able to see God's hand working through the tough times. I know I will see many things begin to take shape, the battle is tough, but going through it is the only way to be refined. I know I am not the same person I was when I left Seattle, and I know I have far more changing to do, in fact through the rest of my life I never want to stagnate, I want to be always changing, always forming to more like Jesus. I know I will never be just like Jesus, because I have already messed that up by sinning. However, Jesus had mercy on all in the Bible, and I he has mercy on me too. Jesus, make me the man you want me to be.
Trace the shape of my heart
Till it becomes more familiar
To your eyes
I've been lost without you
Cold without your love
It's taken days and nights
To make me realize
Rescue me from hanging on this line
I won't give up on giving you
The chance to blow my mind
Let the eleventh hour quickly
Pass me by
I'll find you when I think
I'm out of time
Take the place of my heart
Till I become a stranger to my life
I've been down without you
Wrong without your love
In time will I be what
You're thinking of
Out of time
I've been down without you
Cold without your love
In time will I be what
You're thinking of
[Jars of Clay - The Eleventh Hour]
Posted by TravisM @ 3:30 AM |
Thursday, March 25, 2004
Never live in a place where the snow stays for more than two weeks. Always make expectations clear to all parties involved, know your expectations. In any organization you are involved with always, establish a clear support system. Do not try to control everything; it is the only way I have learned to depend on God. When the hard times come, do not run, take joy in the intimacy you can have with God in this moments. Do not let circumstances control who you are. Always build a strong foundation for relationships, starting with honesty and truth. Always communicate with your leadership/team members any concerns, at the moment. Cross-cultural ministry is not for the weak, nor is it for the strong, it is for the faithful. Practical and spiritual needs must be balanced; otherwise, one cannot survive without the other. Listen to God, then listen again, listen for others to say what God is telling them. Never put too much hope into the weather report, you will be seriously disappointed, especially when it plays tricks on you, like having almost two weeks of "spring" and then winter comes again.
Posted by TravisM @ 7:41 AM |
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
I finally wrote up newsletter six, it may not be all that uplifting and encouraging, but it is honest. I hope to follow it up with newsletter six and a half, which should be more encouraging and include a lot of new ideas I have for the second half of my stay here.
Posted by TravisM @ 2:33 PM |
Monday, March 22, 2004
"If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the fault. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If that person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. If the church decides you are right, but the other person won't accept it, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector. I tell you this: Whatever you prohibit on earth is prohibited in heaven, and whatever you allow on earth is allowed in heaven. "I also tell you this: If two of you agree down here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together because they are mine, I am there among them." [Matthew 18:15-20]The importance of authority is not just for the sake of chaos control, it is important for our own well-being. If we submit to the authority God has placed in our lives, we will see beauty come from it. The kind of authority I am talking about though is not Earthly authority; it is the authority of the Holy Spirit working in the lives of brothers and sisters around us. We all need authority, without we cannot discern what is right and wrong. This is a large problem with the church, and many Christians today; they refuse to listen to the wisdom God has spoken through authority. They became in charge of their own lives, and do not seek counsel or guidance from true authority. When the accountability of authority is missing people begin to get hurt, many times it is selfish desires, other times it is running from responsibility, and some times it is simply wanting life to be "happy", none of this will teach a person the beauty of commitment, obedience, and the joy of being accountable. Organized religion has many drawbacks, but it can be a great place, if filled with the Holy Spirit, because accountability of the leaders keep the people safe and it creates a place for people to know God personally. We all need authority, if I were the head of a business, I would purposely choose three to five people to watch me, simply to provide a place for others to approach if there was a problem. However, God must be their authority for this system to work, otherwise greed, and corruption can happen, many times it does.
Posted by TravisM @ 2:09 PM |
Sunday, March 21, 2004
I just read Genesis one, intriguing stories. In chapter one, we see God create the universe, the amazingly complex world we live in. Contrary to all other science, the world asks us to believe the universe came to be by some kind of random explosion, while all other science says there is a reason and order to all things. Most scientists also say that life moves from complexity to simplicity not the other way around, however, when it comes to the creation of the universe their explanation contradicts that theory. Most Scientist say that the universe came by random explosion and became more complex, contradictory if you ask me.
Also in Chapter one God gives man complete authority of the Earth (Gen 1:28-31), giving them complete control, which meant complete sovereignty and free will. Along with all his other creation, including angles, and the angels (now evil) who would fall and be jealous of their maker. Man chose to know about the "good and evil" in the world, thus, giving God only two options, destroy all his creation (which would have contradicted his promise of giving complete authority to man), or offer man a choice to be redeemed of their disobedience. Thus, god came to Earth as Jesus to show man the way to restore the relationship, which they broke.
Posted by TravisM @ 5:09 AM |
Saturday, March 20, 2004
Went nearly to Warsaw again for a "Foreign missionaries conference". I have a lot of cool ideas, and new connections, but I just got home and I am exhausted, it is off to bed.
Posted by TravisM @ 2:15 PM |
Thursday, March 18, 2004
We held hands in the back seat of the car, driving through very dense fog, on our way to Krakow international airport. It was the last time we would hold hands, for another five and a half months many miles will separate us again. However, the lump at the back of my throat, and the tears that streamed down my face once I was alone, tell me, our love will not fade, it shall grow only stronger. God is calling us closer together, our walks are growing stronger, and our hearts are for the same people. The sun came out, a hint of spring, and hints of new life were all around us. I saw the sparkle in her eyes as she stepped out of my reach, for five weeks she was the sparkle of my life. She is the greatest blessing God has bestowed upon me, thus far, and HE deserves the greatest praise. I pray she is the sparkle of my entire life.
There was a time when you belonged to another
Counting the moments down till you freed yourself
I stood here waiting in my own selfish candlelight
Praying that God would send you down from Heaven
And then I saw your face, I saw a brand new day
I saw your eyes aglow, it sparked my heart to fire
Do you remember the first time I put your hand into mine?
Do you remember the first time I ever kissed your lips?
Do you remember the time that we danced in the rain?
We couldn't sleep for days
Come on and take my hand,
let me lead you home to our new life
Then I saw your smile and it drove me crazy
The way I feel when you're around, I can't describe it baby
You got me on my knees and I'm crying out for love
Love's labor found
Love's labor found me and you rescued me from the darkness
Strange Occurrence - Love's Labor Found
Posted by TravisM @ 8:04 AM |
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Tonight was Alexis' last night here in Poland. In about 4 hours we will be on our way to the airport, I already know it will be very hard to keep the emotions away. Even as I write this my there is a lump at the back of my throat. I have with out any doubt in my mind we will have a lifetime together, God is the center of us, and that is why I have no doubt. The song to play as I type this is one of my favorite worship songs. My faith can only improve, and my life can only be better. Here are the words to "Blessed be the name" by Matt Redmond.
Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be your name
Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name
Every blessing you pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name
Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name
Posted by TravisM @ 3:55 PM |
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
It is has been so busy here, guests in and out, tomorrow is Alexis' last day here, we have a guest from Portland Oregon right now, last weekend it was Warsaw, this weekend its a foreign missionaries conference, the fun never ends. I am physically tired, but spiritually filling up, please pray for the next week or so, I will be meeting with some people here and it could be quite confrontational, however, I know if I am in tune with the Holy Spirit, what comes from my mouth will be edifying and not depressing.
If anyone is looking for a place to seek God in an intimate way, come to Poland when I leave. A part of me is already feeling guilty knowing I will be leaving, another part of me, knows it is the right thing to do, for now. Either way, I truly want to ask any reader out there to pray and see what God may be telling you, any help is welcomed, all the contact information is on the sidebar.
There was a time when I didn't know who i was, except a boy just looking everywhere for acceptence. Then I found acceptence, and with the acceptence I found peace, and all though I may have to walk through hell and back, that peace helps me through it, it doesn't prevent it, but it gets me through. - TJM
Posted by TravisM @ 3:06 PM |
Sunday, March 14, 2004
I'm back from Warsaw, I have a lot of things to write about, it was a greatly needed breath of fresh air. Most of the Polish people I know do not like Warsaw, but I loved it. Have love, peace, and most of all joy.
Posted by TravisM @ 12:46 PM |
Thursday, March 11, 2004
This is what I see.
This is what I have faith in.
Posted by TravisM @ 7:07 AM |
Tuesday, March 09, 2004
I ran across this in a commentary about the Passion of the Christ, it is taken out of context, but I agree with it, in and out of its context.
Emerging culture people are, no doubt, as sensitive as anyone else to dramatic, multisensory, rational-plus-emotional presentations. Special effects can impress them. But they're also suspicious of the whole business. They're looking for something that can't be "produced" but which can only be created: Authenticity. Reality. Honesty. Fruit.To reflect what is said above, that is my personal mission.
That last word, of course, has special resonances to the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. Think of the difference between produce (like fruit) and products (like films, radio broadcasts, boxed programs, etc.). Think of something that must be the organic outgrowth of genuine health and vitality versus something that can be produced with money and technical savvy.
Jesus didn't say it was by our clever outlines, memorable mnemonics, snazzy programs, and special effects that we would be known as his disciples, or that he would be known as sent from God. Rather, he said, it was by our love that we and he would be known, and by our fruit: our good works that shine in darkness and inspire all to glorify God.
Posted by TravisM @ 12:42 PM |
Monday, March 08, 2004
Since the New Year, I have felt like I have been on the brink of something, but what the "something" is, I do not know. I think I am beginning to realize I need to take initiative and do what my heart is telling me, but I need to organize and prioritize those things first. Therefore, this week that is my goal, to thoughtfully write all of these things down and prioritize them. I can already tell it will be an enormous burden off my chest and will release some of the stress I have been feeling, most of which simply comes from being lazy. I do not have an agenda to "seek and destroy" like some kind of corporate juggernaut, but I do have a heart which is on fire and is screaming to be heard.
I wonder, what my old high school friends would think of me now? I wonder if they would even recognize my personality, my character, anything. I am a completely different person than I was four years ago, most people do change a lot from high school, but many of their hearts do not change. Four years ago, I could have cared less about Poland, or really, about any other people in the world, sure I would not have admitted to this, then. However, after taking the step of faith to trust in the invisible, and back then, untouchable God, I realized what true fulfillment was; it was a trust that cannot and will not be broken, but I had to trust first. God changed my life, not any person, not any "good person", just God. Sure, he used people to reach me, but ultimately it was I trusting him, and he changing me, my trust in him, created our relationship.
Therefore, now I take another step of trust. In the next few days I am going to open myself up even more, I am going to see how deep the rabbit hole really does go. I have cried many tears since coming to this land, I have had my heartache and cry for people here (which is the first time in my life I have truly cried over other people). Now, I take another adventure, one that is surely going to bring more tears, more heartache, and more opportunity for me to become the person that Christ has made me, the person I am only with Christ.
Posted by TravisM @ 4:03 PM |
Saturday, March 06, 2004
In the Bible, the number seven represents completeness. At about half pass midnight tonight, I kissed Alexis, a minute later I kissed her again. Today is March 7th, eight months and seven days after that sunny day in Seattle we finally kiss, in the entry hall of an apartment in Nowy Targ Poland, who would have thought?
"Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, by the swift gazelles and the deer of the wild, not to awaken love until the time is right. [Song 2:7]
Posted by TravisM @ 4:18 PM |
Thursday, March 04, 2004
Alexis, Ryan and I are going to Auschwitz today; I was there in the fall. This time we will be our own tour guides, it will take a little over two hours to get there, and as of right now we are a bit behind in schedule, oh well. I think it will be a great time for all of us. I hope to check out some more of the national exhibits. I know last time I was affected in a strong way, I think this time I will be in another way. There is no way of visiting Auschwitz and not be affected, if someone is not, they must have some real serious issues keeping them from seeing injustice.
And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are away on a journey, when you are lying down and when you are getting up again. - Just imagine if we all listened and obeyed, from our hearts, minds, and souls. [Deut 6:6-7]
Posted by TravisM @ 11:18 PM |
Wednesday, March 03, 2004
I received more gifts today than any other Birthday I can ever remember, amazing! Alexis and I were also able to share what God has put on our hearts, to share the foundation of our relationship with others. It was truly an amazing time, I cried at least three times, and felt the urge a number of other times. The hardest time was talking about the importance of fellowship and accountability with my other awesome guy friends, I just could not control myself and the tears flowed, I miss all of them. My heart is full of love, not to "convert" people but simply lend an ear, someone who can be asked questions safely, someone who is real. I am sure that is what happened tonight, even if it is only philosophy for some. My relationship with Alexis is the best thing to happen to me, it is stretching me to be a better human, and it is helping me became closer to God. I would have been completely fine to live a life like Paul, who never married, but now I know that marriages are just as blessed and together Alexis and I can make a difference for those who are seeking to be fulfilled.
I have no agenda to do anything more than be the person God would want me to be, I have no pressure of "converting" anyone, I only wish to show them my life, and invite them to have the same rock as I do. I will live one-step at a time, with Jesus lighting each step. Sometimes I think, "If God didn't exist what a sad life, you live, then die, no purpose" I refuse to believe that, at least I live a life of hope and purpose.
*thank you Alexis *thank you Sabina *thank you Ryan *thank you Denise and Carol *thanks everyone who came!
Posted by TravisM @ 3:56 PM |
Tuesday, March 02, 2004
It is here, my birthday has suddenly snuck up on me, and I really do not know what to do. I do not have any plans, only to hang out with Alexis and Ryan, and later on, we will have our Young Adults meeting. I wish I could say I was excited, but it is really just a neutral feeling. At least I have one of the best blessings in my life here with me, and a really great friend too, that is a lot more than I figured I would have when I left just over six months ago! So, tomorrow I will be twenty-two.
Twenty-two years old, what does someone do at twenty-two? I have had an incredible life thus far. I had an alcoholic father, which my mom divorced before I had any memory, and then he died when I was five. I grew up in a small town, my mom remarried and we had a good family life, no evil "step-dad" that many people do experience. However, as most families, we had our dysfunctional parts, but now we all are growing closer. My teen years were rough, with sexual abuse, identity issues, and the other "normal" teen issues. Then I found God, God's love, and the love he showed through his people completely engulfed me. I was blessed with a very well paying job, my own apartment, a new car, and the ability to afford the car, all of this, and I don't believe in the whole "health and wealth" junk that some churches preach. Now I am living on the opposite side of the world, where I have none of that, none of those people at an easy reach. I have many cultural things to figure out, and many other things to figure out. However, the intimacy I have with God is ten times more than I could ever imagine before. I feel my life is much richer. For being only twenty-two, life has offered me a lot, and I can only imagine what God holds for me in the future.
Something which has become very true lately, however, it is strangly refresshing!
O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your rage. Have compassion on me, LORD, for I am weak. Heal me, LORD, for my body is in agony. I am sick at heart. How long, O LORD, until you restore me? Return, O LORD, and rescue me. Save me because of your unfailing love. For in death, who remembers you? Who can praise you from the grave? I am worn out from sobbing. Every night tears drench my bed; my pillow is wet from weeping. My vision is blurred by grief; my eyes are worn out because of all my enemies. Go away, all you who do evil, for the LORD has heard my crying. The LORD has heard my plea; the LORD will answer my prayer. May all my enemies be disgraced and terrified. May they suddenly turn back in shame. [Psalm 6]
Posted by TravisM @ 2:36 PM |
Monday, March 01, 2004
So, last night Alexis and I picked up my friend Ryan, it took us almost four hours to reach the airport because the traffic was horrible. However, he is an incredible breath of fresh air; it is amazing how nice it is just to have someone from the same culture, and really laid back. Tomorrow we will be traveling a bit in our area in search of cool things to take pictures of; one item on our list is to visit one of the castles in this area. The castle has a nice restaurant where Alexis, Ryan and I will have a nice lunch. Later in the day, I have to teach English, and then afterwards I am not sure what we will do, probably explore a bit of Zakopane, talk, and then I might have something a little more spiritual to write about.
The weekend was great, there is a lot to write about in regards to our trip to the western part of Poland. Wroclaw was amazing; Alexis and I had a great time, and some great Italian food. The city is absolutely beautiful, but of course I forgot my camera, I always do when we do something cool. Ryan does not, so I shall have plenty of pictures when it is all good. A good point of prayer would be for the pasturing couple we visited near Wroclaw, they are in the middle of a very hard situation right now, and support is weak in the denomination they belong too. The situation is so damaging not only to the pastors, but also to the people in the church, I will have more later.
Thank you all for your prayers in the last few weeks, things have been really tuff, but now life seems to be getting brighter. Last night a friend of one of our young adult ladies accepted Jesus! That is great news, keep her in your prayers. My paradigm is shifting, and I know it is God shifting it, thank you again for your prayers.
Posted by TravisM @ 1:14 PM |