Thursday, March 26, 2009

renewal summit 09

Today, I am looking forward to the Renewal Summit 09 being hosted at Pantego Bible Church. This ministry conference, hosted by Tarrant Net, is sure to be a refreshment to local ministry leaders through the teaching of Dr. Tony Evans, Pastor Jim Cymbala and Dr. Alec Rowland. The focus will be on prayer as a means of renewal in our churches, cities and world. The sessions are open to the public from 7-9:00 p.m. Thursday and Friday evenings [$10 suggested donation].

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

strange sights

We're home, safe and sound. My time in Hong Kong was over-the-top incredible. What an honor it was for me to be at Island ECC and I'm grateful for the opportunity to minister in a cross-cultural setting. By the end of the week, I had spoken 7 times, slept very little (jet lag was brutal) and made a handful of unusual connections.

Here are a few unusual facts/observations I learned in Hong Kong:

1. Portions of the island were expanded by "filling in" the ocean. This construction process of making "artificial islands" added 1% to Hong Kong's overall size when the present international airport was built in 1998. To think, we were landing on water.

2. There are only 2 funeral homes on the island to serve the needs of more than 7 million people. One was several blocks from our hotel. Flowers everywhere. Non-stop memorial services. Professional mourners grieve and wail.

3. Spread citizens out in the United States and we end up with about 80 people per square mile. There are more than 14,000 per square mile in Hong Kong. Thick.

4. The island is a melting pot. The church itself represents more than 20 nationalities. English is a staple of a very educated people [the kind of education where a student doesn't get extra credit for not using their bathroom pass for 6 weeks].

5. It's a small world after all. I met students from my former college ministry, people who had just moved from DFW (who knew mutual friends), and a young man who knew someone who knew someone who knew someone. It was like 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon. I'm amazed at how we can still be known in a world of strangers.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Hong Kong bound

On Monday, Pearson and I head across the ocean for a privileged trip to Hong Kong. Tobin Miller, college friend, missionary and pastor at the Island Church, invited me to speak at the Iron Men Conference on Saturday, March 21. I will also speak at a couple's banquet on Thursday evening and preach at the church on Sunday morning and evening. Please pray for our safety and ministry effectiveness during this time! May all the nations hear the name of Jesus!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

God doesn't need us

Harsh thought. I was sitting with a group of men this morning, reflecting on Acts 17:25:

"[God] is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else."

Theologians refer to this as God's aseity or self-sufficiency. It means that God is not dependent on anything else. Quite the contrary, we are dependent of God for everything. We need Him to give us "life and breath and everything else."

This independence raised the question among the Starbucks-drinking group, "But, surely God needs our love. That's why He created us. Because, if God doesn't need our love, then we're potentially one mistake away from being dumped by Him."

SIDEBAR: This led to a great dialogue about truth vs. our emotions. As humans, we default to feeling over fact. We tend to formulate what we believe to be true by what we feel in our hearts. However, feelings and experience cannot be the locomotive of life (to use an old Campus Crusade for Christ analogy). The unwavering truth of Scripture must inform, shape and translate my experiences...not the other way around.

Now let's get back to the self-sufficiency of God. If God doesn't need me, does that make His love less extraordinary? After our study, the image of a foster family came to mind. A little girl is placed in foster care and the family later chooses to adopt her. The parents don't need the child, yet they choose to love her. Now, which is a more extraordinary love: Parents loving the girl because they need to be loved by her...or parents who do not need her love but choose to adopt her and love her as their own? Suddenly, I begin to see the bigger picture. And, this truth of God's independence leads me to an even greater view of my heavenly Father and a more humble appreciation of just how much I am loved!