Dear All –
Some good news:
As the book of Judges closes, the people of Israel sink deeper and deeper into depravity. A levite sells his service to a false god for 10 dollars and a shirt per year, a group of people attempt to rape a traveling man and his concubine. The tribe of Benjamin revolt and kill thousands of Israelites. The common refrain is, “there was no king in Israel, every one did what was right in their own eyes.” Israel needed a king.
And the Lord gives Israel a king: Saul, David, Solomon, and then many others afterward. But the kings aren’t faithful to their charge before God. They cannot represent and lead their people properly because they too are marred with sin. Israel needs a true and blameless king.
But there is really good news – Jesus, the true, blameless, and eternal king, reigns. As the rush of finals, papers, wedding planning, and work is upon me, the reminder that “the Lord reigns!” has been an incredible encouragement. In spite of how busy things are, in spite of how worn down I may be, the Lord is spreading his kingdom.
Last I wrote, I mentioned that I was not engaged (yet). Well, I am excited to report that I proposed shortly after that letter (September 20), and Hannah and I are now engaged! The wedding date is set for February 27, 2010, which is a mere 3 months away. Frightening and exciting all rolled into one. It’s been scary looking at the enormous task list, but encouraging finish items off one by one. We’ve got major items figure out, but now need to start hammering out the details. Fun!
I just finished translating Ephesians 5:25-33 – “Husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her... No man hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it.” Quite a charge. Not only ought the husband be willing to die for his wife, but he must be willing to live for her – to daily sacrifice himself for the sake of her spiritual growth and maturity, to say no to selfish pleasures in order to nourish and cherish his body, his wife. Wow.
Apart from feeling really challenged and encouraged by Ephesians, the rest of my classes have also been a great joy. I’ve been learning about God’s amazing grace in the Old Testament, about the practicals of running a church, about small group ministries, and youth ministry. Each week a different pastor comes in to share about what he does, and all of us come out with a feeling like, “wow! Don’t you totally want to do inner city church planting?” or “Let’s go start some small groups!” The refrain over and over is, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
In addition to learning much academically, I have been humbled and blessed by my cohorts. One of them just shared with the group an amazing testimony of how the Lord has consistently been providing for him financially. He has been unable to get a stable job, yet somehow people, unasked, have written checks to support and encourage him. And each month it has been just enough to cover the rent and expenses and opened up opportunities for him to continue sharing the gospel with some Somalis that he had been playing soccer with. I have been incredibly blessed.
I’ve also been working with senior high school students. I lead a group of 6 freshmen and sophomore men through a study on biblical manhood and womanhood. The curriculum stretches them; they haven’t even started thinking about girls, how are they supposed think about biblical manhood? And what about the culture that believes that gender roles subjugate women?
So, I’ve been teaching them that men are not taking the initiative in order to demand obedience, but rather taking the initiative in order to serve. Adam’s charge was to work and serve the land. Christ, our Lord, did not come to be served, but to serve. That’s our model for men – We must take the initiative in order that we might serve. It’s been tough to get these guys motivated because they’ve all heard about God before, but this is something I long for them to hear and believe and put into practice. Of course, it has incredible relevance to me, I’m getting married!
Prayer requests –
I really don’t have much in the way of prayer requests, the Lord has provided for me more than I ever hoped or believed. I’m engaged to a beautiful and godly woman who prays for me daily (I need it!). I have a job tutoring students in calculus, which I love (both the students and the calculus). I get to share the Gospel with a bunch of senior high men who thought they didn’t need it but are beginning to realize that they do. I live with a group of guys who are excited about the Kingdom of God and want to live in joyful anticipation and obedience of it. My classes blow me away on a consistent basis, and I feel incredibly blessed to have such a strong network of friends like you that I can send this out to. I get so many encouraging responses to letters like this that I simply don’t have the time to answer them all, which is an incredibly encouraging problem to have.
Please pray that in this time of joyful abundance, I would continue to say with Paul, (Phil 4:12-13) “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Would it be that I would not see these gifts as greater than the greatest gift of all: Knowing and being known by Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
With great joy,
PS – attached is a picture of Hannah and me, courtesy of Jessica when she visited back late September.