30 October 2006

Team Partners

The advice us men got was, "Your wife is your first team. You love her almost as much as Jesus. Your next team is your kids (if you have 'em). Then, you've got your team-team."

So I'm trying to understand my wife better and letting her express herself more before I try to correct her thinking or solve problems or simply talk over her. I think I'm doing a pretty good job.

Let me get psychological . . . there's a man I know who doesn't have much control in his life. Let's call him A. He is a man who has throat cancer. His wife makes him come to the church building while she teaches English and phonics to Vietnamese immigrants (after I get through with them--I've almost taught them North, South, East, West, Oklahoma). She is a sincere woman who is passionate about learning more about Jesus (though she is a nominal churchgoer). Let's call her B. She is a woman who has multiple schlerosis.

Well, A doesn't have much control in his life. He has been known to snap at people when they ask him how he's doing. "Terrible!" he says, "Tell them to stop asking me how I'm doing." In bible class he's been asked, "Would you like a bible?" "NO!" he says.

Honestly, I've observed, perhaps correctly, that Mr. A is a lot like me. I don't like it when other people take control away from me. For example, in bible class someone occasionally says, "Pray for [A] and his cancer." A says, "Don't pray for me! I don't believe in that kind of prayer!" If I were him I would want people to give me some control. If I want a bible I'll ask. (A has actually been seen looking over to read in someone else's bible.) If I want to request prayers, let me make the request. And why don't you tell me about your problems instead asking me about mine.

I don't know what makes me unique. I've heard that there are only seven or eight basic personalities. I don't know if "passive-aggressive" is one of them, but I tend to be that way. I am praying that I will be aware of my tendencies especially in our team dynamics.

Maybe you don't know what I'm talking about. It's like this. You want to help me with something. I say, "No, thank you." You say, "Are you sure?" I'm thinking, "Yes, even more sure. Let's talk about something else." If my wife comes to me and says, "Jason, let's go see a movie!" I get a this-is-the-first-I've-heard-of-this look on my face. I want to be the one who starts something (because I believe I can do it well and better than you), but since other people always beat me to it, I unintentionally resent them for taking the lead. However, basically, you can get me to do anything within your power, but I won't like it. I'm sorry. I'm working on dying to myself. I reckon I will make a better teammate then.

27 October 2006


I needed to post this picture for Diamond and Anna-Pearl. :-) It's the lizard that I actually touched after this picture was taken. I am amazed by the vastness and diversity of God's creation displayed in the existence of lizards . . . If you'll click on it it you can see a bigger image.

Dean and Reba and Diamond and Anna-Pearl and Buddy and the cats (Tiger and ???) showed us super-Christian hospitality! I wish Nicole could have spent more time with us. Almost all of the Christians I have met have been hospitable people by nature, but this family seems to have been given the gift of hospitality. I think even Nicole, who was only in Jonesboro part of the time, felt more connected to God through the new relationships we found in Jonesboro because they were based on the cross and on our mutual passion to see the Gospel spread far and wide.

Our mission team worked together in Jonesboro, Arkansas since Monday morning. We participated in a Strategy Lab in which we dug deep into the core and distinctive Christian beliefs that guide our strategies and the core values that define us and determine how we limit our plans. It was good to focus on the vision God has given us through wrestling with scripture and thinking about the people of Wollongong, Australia. We also had some awesome worship breaks in our group of about 12 men and women. After this week I believe that God has provided our team with energy and direction that will keep us moving on the right path of preparation. I believe we will "slowly by slowly" over the next several months and years realize the vision, which is a small part of God's grand vision for the liberation from decay and transformation of the whole world. Church-planting will not be easy, but we will participate in it based on who God is and on who he has called us and the people of Wollongong, Australia to be.

Throughout the week, Dean and Reba's family took super care of our needs (took us in, gave us beds and a bathroom, woke us up, fed breakfast, shared conversion stories, laughed with us, and on and on). Jon and "Buddy" had us laughing really hard. Buddy is an Australian Retriever. It just so happens that their family lived in Stillwater for a significant amount of time and have maintained many relationships formed there. (They remembered my family, too, especially Melissa.) Reba reads stories of missionaries to the girls. I will post more on this family as well as the strategy lab later. For now, here are some pictures:

22 October 2006

Aren't I Great?

I wonder how much of the world's population took a six-day vacation in a practical paradise like some Jamaican resort.

If there were only 100 people in the world, I would be the third richest one. (Click on the blog title to learn where you'd be.)

It makes me reflect on whether what I am doing with my life is pleasing to God.

Last Wednesday night I was teaching the teens from Daniel 4. The king oppressed people (indirectly) and thought nothing of God being in charge. But God gave him a disturbing dream. Daniel interpreted the dream from the king. The king was cut to the heart about the consequences promised because had not done what was pleasing to God with the great God-given resources he had. Daniel told him to repent from his oppression (no specifics were given). The king was humbled for a while, but then one day he was walking on the roof thinking, "Aren't I great and worthy!" Then, God turned him into something like an animal for "seven times". This did the trick to humble him. (There's actually extra-biblical evidence that validates this story somewhat . . . a King Nabonidus who was the father of Belshazzar of Daniel chapter 5 actually "went crazy" for seven years. At the end, a Jewish person performed a successful exorcism on the king who then went back to work being king . . .)

As a Christian, when I realize my "position" in the world I am not tempted to say, "Aren't I great and worthy!" but rather, "You must have given me this wealth for a reason? God, what do you want me to do with it? I can't just give it all away?"

In my dark side, however, I ask, "Will I really be held responsible for my actions in this age when Christ comes in the next?"

16 October 2006

Jamaica Story

We had lots of pictures taken with the beautiful water and sunsets. The best part of my time in Jamaica was walking along the beach with my wife for hours at a time.
We snorkeled twice; this was the second time, when we swam through a couple of caves. Nicole and I were the only ones daring enough to hold our breaths and swim under rock to come up into an air pocket. It was actually quite easy, but no one else in our group was interested. Nic saw a medium-size stingray, but it had buried itself by the time she got my attention. We never did find Nemo. I think he must have found his way to Sydney.
Lots of geckos. It was awesome. On the last morning I was watching from above a large brown gecko, which had a dinosaur-like fin along its head, back, and tail. It left the scene temporarily and two smaller geckos, one brown with a white stripe down its back, and a second sand-colored one, scurried across the large leaves near the top of a large tropical plant. Suddenly the large gecko flew from out of nowhere and when I finally realized what had happened--the sandy lizards neck was in the mouth of the dinosaur-looking one! That was cool! I would have gotten this on video if the stupid phone hadn't been ringing in the middle of all this because we we're supposed to check out of our room.
A cliff diver standing with Nic. Are we stupid for paying him two dollars to jump off this tree like 90 feet above the water? After he jumped I decided I wanted to jump off the little chicken dive. I'm not sure how high I was, but I hit well except for the fact that I forgot to hold my nose.

05 October 2006

Ivy League

Mom, it was good to be with you last weekend! Thanks for sitting with us on McAlister's deck for three hours. We won't forget it! I enjoy how you disagree with me openly. You never do it in a way that makes me feel like an enemy or like I am beneath you. I feel empowered when you challenge me . . . and sometimes I learn something. :-) We're looking forward to seeing the rest of the family next month!

We been busy lately. I've got too much stuff to do and because Nicole's travel consultant privileges will soon come to an end we're going to Jamaica next week for "study week". Probably not wise in some ways, but in others this is a very good thing and I'm hoping my poison ivy will clear up by then. Noel, remember when I got infected just before I came to visit you back in '98? Man, we popped that blister! Well, today I got a shot of some kind of steroid or somethin' in my butt and I took a diluted clorox bath before that. I like to be pretty "natural" about seeking a homeostatic existence, but I was desperately willing to do just about anything to recover from this "plague" of sorts. I haven't been able to touch my wife for days and the puss oozes out of my boils in a disgusting way. My advice to people is don't inhale, touch, or go gambolling through any kind of poison plants. And don't wreck your bike in it. And don't scratch it--even two weeks later!

To Poison Ivy:

I hope that I can escape your devlish wiles
on the forest floor
You don't deserve anyone's smiles
as you have heyday in the moors.

For you I wish no Irish blessing,
but the future harmless new creation
But if that's not possible, I hope you wither.