Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It’s coming!

Though it may be ancient history for you (as it is for me) an important day is fast approaching for a certain group of people. It is the day that the latest graduates from the AIM program will cross the stage, receive their certificate, and officially conclude their commitment. Though most have been back from their field assignments for months, this will still be a significant experience as it marks the end.

For those of you that experienced it, what are your specific memories about that day? What was it like for you? Do you remember how it felt to see everyone again? Can you still remember how much people had changed, physically and spiritually? Maybe you felt sadness because it was done or maybe you felt excited because of what you were doing next, but whatever you experienced you probably have some strong memories about it.

Well, on March 13 I have the privilege to speak to these students. I have thought and prayed long and hard about what to say to them. I do realize, though, that I am limited. I am limited to my own experience. Though I have talked to hundreds of AIM alumni over the last 15 years, I still only have my vantage point. So I’m wondering, what would you say? More specifically, what do you wish someone had told you? If you were able to go back and address your AIM class what would you have want said to you that would have helped you to get through the transition smoother and in an even more healthy way? What would you have said to encourage? To challenge? To help your audience cling even tighter to their relationship with the God who made and has purpose for them? What would you say?

I have no illusions that this one speech will fix everything, but if it is able to bless one student, that is a tremendous blessing that I want to participate in. I ask that you would be praying for me that I would do this in a way that would bring honor to God and that you would send me your thoughts so that I could more fully express ideas that would bring greater healing to His people.

- Jason Thornton

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Prayer Requests

Several people have suggested that we start a thread for prayer requests. As we work on that, please use this area for now to send us your requests. Then, next week we will continue with another fresh blog article!


Monday, February 8, 2010

The God of the small stuff

I love science. Not all of it though. Biology leaves me confused, and though I admire folks who make that their life-work, it's not a field that has much appeal to me. I love the certainty of chemistry and the 'relative' (excuse the pun) certainty of physics. But there's a field of science that I've grown enamored with in the last decade, the field of biochemistry, the study of biology on a molecular level, examining the way “life” functions beyond the level of cells, at the level of proteins and DNA. While I haven't yet found a Biochemistry For Dummies, I am always looking for a new textbook or some other entry-level book to help me understand it more. I recently bought a coffeetable book, Nano Nature by Richard Jones. He took images from scanning electron microscope, and revealed a world of beauty and detail at a level that few people in the entire world knew existed. It is easy to look at a flower, or a butterfly, and to marvel at its beauty, but to know that the scales of a butterfly's wing (I didn't even know that the wing had scales on it!) are each a separate color, and are also grooved for what I would imagine are some improved aerodynamics opened my eyes to the amazing way this world is put together.

Why's that important to me? I confess that sometimes I get to living like all God is concerned about is the big picture. I don't take the little things to Him, because He's only going to work on the major stuff, whatever that is in my head that week. (I don't know where I've drawn the line, but it's there somewhere.) And the 'big' Christian acts, like Sunday worship or teaching Bible class, get my attention, but the 'little' ones, like daily listening to Him or talking to Him, get put on the back burner. (I know, it's so backwards, but that's how we live, isn't it?) But when I read about biochemistry and see the detail in the natural world a molecular level, I'm reminded that God is as concerned about the little details too!

I don't think this is important for an AIM alumnus only, but for those of us who have been involved in the “big” picture work of sharing our faith in a 'foreign' country, sometimes the everyday living out of our faith can feel small in comparison. I hope that you will remember that God doesn't feel that way, that God wants you to be as faithful now as He did when you were in Lubbock or on the field. And I hope that you'll help us to encourage each other to reveal God in the “details” of your life.

So how have you seen God's concern in the “small stuff” in your life?

- Donovan Fox

Monday, February 1, 2010

Joseph as a missionary- The dream and the reality

I've been thinking a lot about Joseph, son of Jacob, as a missionary. The story of Joseph begins in Genesis 37 and concludes in Genesis 50. Now, I know that Joseph never intentionally left home to serve as missionary for the Lord. Still, one cannot get around all of the lessons that this man of God brings to light and the way those lessons parallel missions. The next few times I write, I will be focusing in on a few of these ideas.

One of the big struggles that so many of us face in life involve our dreams and expectations. What happens when dreams don't match reality? What happens when expectations are met with disillusionment and failure? I can't tell you how many times in ministry, missions, and life I have spoken with people about this very issue. Marriages ending in divorce because expectations weren't met. Preachers hanging their heads in failure, following the loss of dreams and hopes. Missionaries returning home, saddened by life's disappointments. This dark cloud of failure seems to follow so many of us throughout life.

Joseph had a dream too. Genesis 37 says that at age seventeen, Joseph dreamt of a future where he was respected and honored, revered and exalted by those around him. I seriously doubt that any of us have ever expressed such a self-centered dream to our family and friends as Joseph did. And yet, the core expectation of Joseph's dream is felt by all. Most of us want to succeed in life. We desire honor and fortune in our journeys. Who sets out to let people down? Like Joseph, the dream of accomplishment is ever before us.

The dreams of Joseph were indeed great. In all reality, God planned on fulfilling that dream, but not for the reasons that Joseph had planned. God's vision for Joseph was greater than making him a Lord to be worshipped. God's vision was that Joseph might serve and ultimately save his family (Genesis 45:5-7). To accomplish that goal, God had to take Joseph down an unforeseen path. What might have been perceived as failure to Joseph (becoming a slave, being falsely accused of wickedness, ending up in prison) was just the path God had chosen. Joseph couldn't have reached his destination had he tried to. So, God lead him down a different road, an unlikely one.

Well, we have dreams too. Sometimes those dreams are pure, and sometimes they aren't. Still, God is smarter than us. The road he leads us down may be filled with failures and disappointment. However, God sees the bigger picture. God sees the perfect path for us, not simply so that we can be exalted, but so that people can be saved (Acts 17:26-27). We should hand our dreams over to the Lord. Allow him to guide our steps. After all, we never know what is coming next. Whether pain or prosperity, failure or fortune, God knows our dreams and has his own dreams for us too.

- Chris Johnson