Monday, August 31, 2009

Flapjack Friend Day at CCF!



Social Media and the Church

The church does not need to catch up. It needs to take the lead! How can we see people saved and transformed today and in the years to come considering the realities of our day? Maybe I will blog more thoughts about this soon, but for now....this video says it.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Perception

DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approx. 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle-aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.


4 minutes later: The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.


6 minutes later: A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.


10 minutes later: A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.


45 minutes: The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.


1 hour: He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.


No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.


This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities.


The questions raised: in a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?


One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made.... How many other things are we missing?


(I read this on David Crosby's Blog this week.)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Shamain Greaves in the House

I have know Shamain since she was in diapers. Now, she is a beautiful teenage young lady with a killer voice and a desire to make something of herself. I am proud of her!

The other day, she notified some of us that she was now on YouTube and that we should check her out. We did. And Tricia and I were really impressed (again) by her great vocal ability.

Shamain wrote this of herself:

My name is Shamain Greaves, I am 17 years old. I was born June 3rd, 1992 in Guyana. I love to sing, dance, act, and write poetry and songs. I go to the studio and record songs also. My CD is coming soon I promise. =) I am vertically challenged but God is still amazing. =) I am a senior this year!! Woo Hoo! I want to be a singer when I grow up!

Here is my favorite of her YouTube videos (I secretly like Beyonce):



She has other ones too...If you want to see more, just YouTube "ShamainG"!

Go Shamain!

Just a Sinner?

I have always wondered about this idea of being "just a sinner saved by grace." Huh? I know the God of the universe in a personal way and all I get is the title of "sinner"??

Yes, we all sin, but take 2 minutes and read this perspective on this topic:

Kevin Stewart, a deep thinker at my church wrote about this on his blog! Click Here!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Flaming Swords

I do not want to sin. I'm sure you don't either. But, we do! The reality is that we are sinners. All of us. But, the closer we get to the Lord, the more we become like Him.

I read something in Genesis this summer that hit me in a way it never had before. After Adam and Eve sinned by eating from the tree that they were commanded not to, God banished them from the garden. Then, in 3:24 it says this:

"God stationed mighty angelic beings to the east of Eden and a flaming sword flashed back and forth guarding the way to the tree of life."

So, here is my prayer for you and I today:

May God protect us from sin!
May he appoint mighty angelic beings to us today.
May he place flaming swords along the paths that we are not to walk.
May he place stop signs and yield signs along the way for us so that we please him and obey him.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Here Comes The Dreamer

In Genesis 37:5-7, Joseph tells his brothers about a dream he had. He basically said -- "I dreamed that you all are going to bow down and worship me!" Now, I am not sure whether you have any siblings, but if I told mine that, they would probably laugh me out of the room and conclude that I couldn't possibly any be more arrogant. It really took nerve for Joseph to even tell his brothers about his dream.

Then...later in the chapter (37:19), Joseph's brothers see him approaching in the distance and they say these key words:

"Here comes that dreamer!"

When I read this recently, something came alive in me. I want to be a dreamer! I want to envision God's future for myself and the people around me. I want to be a visionary. I want to be in tune with the Lord, hear from him and then have the courage to tell people what I heard.

Not sure that I want to be thrown in a pit. Or sold into slavery. Or be sent to jail. But, I do want to be a dreamer for God.

I know that the brothers did not intend it as a compliment, but what a compliment...

Here comes that dreamer!

Whispers

When we read the Bible, we see God speaking to people over and over again. Was that just back then? Or does He still speak? Was that just when he was in a "Talking Mood"? What about today?


How do we hear the Lord speak to us? Pray…and come join us at CCF Sunday, September 6th and 13th as I teach a series called “Whispers. Hearing God!”

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Bible is not (just) a Book!

Yesterday I preached ONE IDEA:

Get in that Word!! (Read the Bible!! Everyday!!)

Here is just one of the thoughts that the Lord gave me as I prepared for that message.

How we view the Bible will impact the relationship that we have with it.

If we see it as a BOOK, we will treat it as something to be read...if it is interesting enough to us. Or something to be finished. Read that! Been there. Done that. Heard that. I am afraid that too many people actually DO see the Bible like this. It is pages contained between two leather covers.

I would suggest that perhaps our approach to scripture would change if we viewed the Bible differently.

It is not a book! It is:
  • A voice!
  • The voice of God.
  • Life!
  • Breath!
  • Food!
  • Answers to your questions.
  • Healing to your brokenness.
  • Light to your path.
  • Revelation to who you really are and correction to purify you.
  • Clarity to your confusion.
  • Accountability for your choices.
  • Road map to the Will of God in your life!
Not just a book!

Read the Bible! Everyday!

Read the leather kind.

Any Version!

Listen to it on tape!

Listen to it on CD!

Listen to it on MP3!

Read it online! (www.biblegateway.com)

Read it on your phone! (www.youversion.com)

Call and have someone read it to you! (727-342-5672)

Read it on the train. Read it on the bus. Read it on your lunch break. Read it on the potty. Read it in the morning. Read it in the night.

Whatever you do, GET IN THAT WORD! It will impact your days more than any one decision that you could make. Trust me. Try it!

Friday, August 21, 2009

If God Births a Baby...A look at insecurity

When I taught in China, I did a part of my talk on the insecurity of leaders. I know that insecurity greatly hinders many leaders. And I think that the ones who seem most secure or confident in front of you, struggle the most in the private and the quiet of their hearts.

I heard this said and thought it was profound:
If man births a baby, he needs to raise it and send it to college. If God births a baby, he will raise it and send it to college. If I put myself in this seat, I need to defend it. If God put me in this seat, he will defend it.

At its core, I think that insecurity enters our hearts when we think that we can create or establish any security in and of ourselves. Our leadership is possible because of the Lord. Our lives exist because of the Lord. Our bills get paid because of the Lord. We are all that we are because of the Lord.

As soon as we think we did it and it is ours, then we get freaked out about the idea of maintaining it...and that ought to cause insecurity...that ought to freak us out!

All of our security in life, family, leadership, health, etc comes from the Lord!!! He is our rock.

"Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders." -Deuteronomy 33:12

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Blame Game

I am sure that you have heard of "The Blame Game" before. Well, in reading through Genesis again this week, some things hit me afresh:
  • After the first recorded sins in the Bible (committed by Adam and Eve), their first reaction was SHAME!
  • Their very next reaction was "The Blame Game!" Which, I suppose is the first biblical sporting event. ;-)
Check it out for yourself:

Adam and Eve just did the one thing that God asked them not to do. And here's the Lord confronting them on it:

“Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?” The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God asked the woman, “What have you done?” “The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.” -Genesis 3:11-13

They messed up!

Adam blamed Eve.

Eve blamed the serpent.

Blame Game On!!

We all have an inborn tendency to blame someone or something for our poor choices. I think the we please God more and increase our integrity when we admit it, step up and take responsibility when we do wrong.

Just Sayin'!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My Facebook Approach

I just happened to realize that this morning, I passed the 1,000 friend mark on Facebook. I love Facebook. I see it's immense strengths. I also see it's luring dangers. I pay attention to both. Here are a few keys and secrets to "my Facebook approach":
  1. I have one rule about who I am friends with. Here it is: I have to know them! They may be a friend or an acquaintance or someone I met one time. But, whether it is 1,000 or 5,000, I will be able to tell you who each one of them are. They know me and I know them. That simple. I aint being "friends" online with people I do not know. That's just me.
  2. There is no way in the world that I can keep updated on 1,000+ friends. Not happening. So, I made 2 lists. "CCF" and "Favorites". Then, I try to read the status updates of the people on those 2 lists to see what they are up to (about 150 people). I cannot even begin to tell you how much I appreciate the window into church people, family and friends throughout the week. But there are about 850 of my "friends" that I just do not have the time to read.
  3. I get this alot...Noah, you update all the time! How do you have the time for that? 2 words: I TWITTER! I never ever update my Facebook status from within Facebook. I simply twitter. From the bathroom, the car, the hallway, wherever and whenever I have a thought I want to share, I take my phone off my hip and send a text (to twitter). (Now using Tweetdeck for the iPhone.) As soon as I hit send on my Tweet that took 10 seconds to write, it automatically populates on my blog, the Twitter site, the cell phones that get my updates through SMS and Facebook! I do none of that.
  4. One more key to my Facebook approach: I use it as a tool to connect, relate and network with people through sharing my updates and receiving theirs (with many opportunities for ministry arising all the time). That's it! No game playing, no farms (no offense to my friends who are avid farmers), no invites, no events, no birthdays, no quizzes, no fan clubs, no poking...you get my point. That may work for you, but not me. No time to fit that in.
So, maybe you found this helpful. If you have any questions or comments about any of this, leave a comment! I enjoy interacting on these things.

Rocking the Boat

Over the last months, I have learned a LOT about life and leadership. Stepping away from a role that you love and people that you love is not easy. Even when it is for wonderful purposes. Would you imagine it would be easy for most leaders to step away, turn over the keys, entrust it all, and hope that you have a job and some relational equity when you return? And what about those being led and others on the team. There's going to be anxiety there too!

Well, if I am honest....which is something that I like to be....there was anxiety leaving, and there anxiety returning....for me and the Staff. There should be! It is just natural. It is the way that systems work.

Pastor Nelson spoke into this yesterday with profound wisdom! He put it this way:

When someone steps out of a boat, the boat rocks and experiences some imbalance. People need to readjust and position themselves in different ways to make up for what left the boat. This would refer to weight distribution, work distribution and the like. Then, they adjust an begin to sail again!! In the same way, when someone steps back into a boat, the same thing happens. It rocks, and everyone readjusts a tad to make up for what was (re)introduced into the system. Then, we adjust and sail again!!

I am so thankful to be welcomed back into the boat and I am thankful that my fellow sailors are as wonderful as they are. Let it be said, our team did a fantastic job this summer!! I had no doubt that they would, because they work for Jesus, not me.

Let's sail right into what God envisions for us!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Noah Leads Workout on Location at the Olympic Stadium

I've been succeeding at working out regularly for several months now. Feels like a huge victory in my life. Our friends, Matt and Sioux-z Gary, the owners of Supreme Sports & Fitness in Rockville trained Tricia and I on a good workout before we left on Sabbatical. I love this workout. It is organic, requires no machines, no purchases...just your body. In Matt's words, "if you cannot lift and handle your own body weight, you have no business adding any weight of machines to it." The exercises they taught us are great and can be done anywhere and anytime with just your body! And they kick our butt!

Well, those that know me well, know that I tend to be an influencer when I find something I like. A bit of a salesman. Just a tad. Well, I have enjoyed sharing my exercise routine with several people this summer. One of those people was Bishop Glenn. In China. In front of the Olympic Stadium is Beijing. Unbeknownst to me, one of the guys was filming this "lesson" that I was giving Glenn. Another one of the guys with us made it into this funny video. You gotta see this!

Now, mind you, there is a whole lot wrong with this picture:
  • The fatty (me) is showing the fit and trim (Glenn) an exercise routine (that has obviously not transformed me yet!)
  • Pay special attention to the man on the left staring at me and the people passing by. What must they be thinking? "Are you serious? Is that big guy really teaching someone how to exercise?"
  • I just think that that whole thing is hilarious. The fact that it is all happening in front of the Olympic Stadium/Birds Nest just adds to the whole thing.
  • Matt and Sioux-z...at least this is proof that you made a difference!
video

Saturday, August 15, 2009

What I Read in China

Here is some of what I read in China, in case any of it seems of interest to you:

"Communicating for a Change" by Andy Stanley and Lane Jones

Great book about preaching. Read this in preparation for getting back in the pulpit...which I am really, really excited for!!!

"Windows of the Soul" by Ken Gire

Recommended by a new friend I met in China, this book is about the many ways that God reveals himself to us. The author calls them windows. Interesting thoughts. Neat to hear someone share about how they have seen God in art, poems, vocation, music, movies, victory and wilderness! Helped me further prepare for a series I will be preaching soon called "Whispers".

"Where's the Duck in Peking?" by Cliff Schimmels

June handed me this book halfway through the flight yesterday and said it was an easy read. 200 pages. 4 hours later, I handed it back to her. Finished. I think it was the fastest I have ever gone cover to cover. Great book about all the practical and surprising things that a foreigner should expect from China. If you are a student of culture or plan to visit China, you should really read this book!

"Dr. Frankenstein and World Systems" by Bob Mumford

A short little book that I am just finishing up today.

"Let the Nations be Glad" by John Piper

I just reread/breeze-read this classic book on missions. I am yet to find a book on missions that can touch this one. So good!

The Bible: Book of Acts and Book of Romans

This was by far the best reading I did over the last 2 weeks. It was powerful to read about the start of the church from a nation so strategically placed to carry the gospel back to Jerusalem.

It's not to difficult to read this much in 2 weeks when you log about 25,000-30,000 miles of flight time!!

Heart for the Nations

God gave me these two verses as I was doing my devotions the last day of our trip (I guess that would be yesterday or the day before?):

Romans 1:12: "When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours."

Romans 1:14: "For I have a great sense of obligation to people in both the civilized world and the rest of the world, to the educated and uneducated alike."

There is a reason that the Lord placed them in my sight when he Did. The Apostle Paul puts my heart and purpose for my trip to China into words here. And he does it perfectly.

God is developing in me a heart for the nations. I pray that he will do the same in you. If you ever get a chance to go away and visit another nation and see what God is doing, TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY! It changes your life. If you have never done it before, decide that you want to, pray about it and God WILL make it happen for you. I believe that.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Report from the trip. God at work in China!

I told Glenn the day that I arrived in Hong Kong that I was not totally sure WHY I was on this trip. I just knew THAT I needed to make this trip. The Lord made that part clear to me. The rest would become clear with each passing day I spent in China.

It is just not possible to describe this trip in words…and that is really frustrating. First of all, you need to know that I cannot. There are many things that I would love to share but cannot. The work that many of our brothers and sisters are doing is just too important to ever take the chance to interrupt it.

I DO, however want to share some things. So, here goes. I am going to give you some quick statements. If you want to know more, ask me:
  • EMM is doing amazing work in Asia and around the world! As is often common with Mennonites, they do not brag about stuff. But they could. There is lots happening to tell about, but in humility and for safety, they cannot. But, I assure you that God is at work in BIG ways!
  • Something indescribable is happening in the spiritual realm in China. There is a transformation happening in the hearts of many Chinese people and even in the Chinese Government. We had conversations with reliable sources regarding some shifts happening in the near future…for the good!
  • I could tell many, many stories of what God did just this week! I would not know where to start.
  • I believe that China is strategically positioned to be one the most vital conduits through which the great commission will be accomplished. If you want to know why I think that, let’s do lunch!
  • Once China is in your heart, it is IN YOUR HEART!! Only those that have China in their heart know what I am talking about. It is so hard to explain, but it is as real as anything I have ever known.
What now?

As I wrap this trip up and head home, I will be seeking the Lord and listening to Him! What is next for me and China? My family and China? My church and China? My district and China? …and the rest of the world? The uttermost parts…

Friends, our Creator is creatively at work around the world! Our universal God is at work globally calling people to Himself!

Matt 24:14- "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."

How can YOU and I join Him?

A Prophetic Word about China...1904

A Quote by John Mott in 1904 – I think that this is/was a prophetic statement!

“What people (referring to the Chinese) have such remarkable staying power, such large capacity for work; such patient endurance of hardship and suffering! Surely God has a special purpose in preserving the integrity of this nation for four thousand years…The qualities which have made the Chinese such efficient agents…will make them, under the transforming, directing, and energizing power of the Holy Spirit, one of the mightiest forces for the upbuilding of the kingdom of God. Their influence is destined to be increasingly felt far beyond the limits of the Middle Kingdom.”

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Go Austin!

THIS was a privilege!!

Austin Kauffman (Son of Glenn and June) grew up in Hong Kong, China on the mission field. He moved back to the USA last year at 11 years old. He is 12 now. He has a genuine love for the Lord and is just a great young man with a sweet spirit.

A few months ago, Austin and his parents realized that the following things were about to align:
  • They would be in Hong Kong to visit (one year after leaving).
  • Austin felt ready to be baptized and had not yet been.
  • His Pastor from America (me) was going to be in Hong Kong at the same time.
So, they thought...Pastor Noah and Dad should baptize Austin....in Hong Kong...in the South China Sea....with their old church...SO WE DID!! And it was AWESOME! What a special moment. And I felt absolutely honored to share the moment with Austin!!

Certainly was my first time baptizing someone on another continent and also my first time baptizing someone in an ocean!

Go Austin!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

New Day Realization

I am quite overwhelmed as I tell you about this quick story.  It is fresh and meaningful.

Yesterday, we flew to Beijing and drove one hour north to New Day Creations.  Here is their website: www.newdaycreations.com.  This is a orphanage/factory/charity/business all in one.  All of this done for the ultimate goal!  

The orphanage was moving to say the least.  All of the kids in this particular place are special needs.  One had serious heart surgery yesterday!  Another is about to be united with the family from Texas that will be adopting them...THIS AFTERNOON!!  They will meet here this afternoon to take her back to the States.  More later....

Listen to this.  The New Day factory makes primarily things that you would but in a Christian bookstore.  Figurines, stone and resin products with verses, etc.  Local Chinese do all the work by hand.  Every step.  As I was walking through the factory I saw this: 




What was so moving and special was that this is THE GIFT that my parents gave me for my ordination in April.  It is sitting in our living room and is quite meaningful to me.  It could have been made anywhere in the world, but it was made right here in this small factory in China that I visited this morning.

This is the only place that they are made and they are made specifically for Lighthouse Christian Products.  The statue in my living room was made 500 yards from where I am writing this blog by the people I just met.  

This may not sound like a big deal to you, but the feeling I had when I walked into this room and saw a man sanding one after another after another before sending them to be painted...it moved me to cry.  I now attach this praying statue in my living room to my heart and prayer for the people of China!

This experience had deep spiritual significance for me!!  God is stirring something....

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The "Real" China

People in Hong Kong call Hong Kong, Hong Kong. China is the country just north of them. So, I really have not been to "China" yet on this trip.

Well, we are headed to the "Real China" today. In about 15 minutes, Glenn and I will leave for the airport and fly about 3 hours to Xian. We will meet with servants and do some connecting and sharing. After that, we fly to:

Beijing

Then Shenyang

Then Shanghai

Then, back to Hong Kong on the 13th to fly home on the 14th.

So, here goes a whirlwind tour into China for the next 9 days. We welcome your prayers. I am unsure of how well I will be able to stay connected as it is quite a bit more "strict" in China, than in Hong Kong.

Lord bless you all!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Chicken Feet and a Great day in Hong Kong!

Did not want to go to bed before telling you what a great experience today was!
  • Woke up in Hong Kong.
  • Had breakfast with long time friends of the Kauffman’s who have been serving in Hong Kong for many years!
  • Ate Chicken Feet (for the first and last time)! Ate a lot of other food that I actually liked!
  • Rode a bus, train, boat, tram, trolley, double-decker, subway, taxi,….basically if you have ever heard of a public transportation style, they have it here, I rode it today and so did millions of other people.
  • Saw majestic mountains and massive city meeting one another. It looks like they took NYC and put the Rockies directly around it. Or it reminds me of Manhattan dropped into St. Thomas (if it fit).
  • We walked today. A lot. We climbed stairs today. A lot. As Davis would say… "I tired.”
  • Attended a Small Group tonight with about 10 people from Hope Church. We met in a beauty shop/spa. Like a mini Robert Andrews….China style. I thought it was neat to see the church meet the marketplace like that. The brothers and sisters that we met with were vibrant worshipers and full of joy. They were the highlight of this day!
Oh, and did you know…
  • America and China will have the same amount of people worshiping Jesus this weekend? 100 million.
  • However, the total population of the US is equivalent to the population of people in China who have never even heard of Jesus!!
  • Tomorrow, I will be assisting with baptizing someone in the South China Sea. Wait until you hear this story!
Peace!