Thank You Jesus… Even when I do not Understand

For the last 5 to 8 years I have had a passion to help the poor. Helping people break the chains of poverty is something I want to do. For those reasons I am in the Philippines doing research on how the poor get access to health care, and to understand the financial challenges of being a mother in a developing country.

Yes, I am conscious that being a male and an American means my research findings will be different than if someone else did it … such as A male Filipino, an American woman, or a Filipina. So I am gathering information, mostly statistical, although some of my data is qualitative.

However, in February of this year I thought I was going to an orphanage in Uganda. I spent weeks praying about the Uganda project, for Jesus to work out all the details and make it a productive trip. But the project I was going to work on fell through because the orphanage was going to be undergoing summer repairs (and they did not want an outsider in the way). I thought this was a strange reason to cancel a trip when they originally said yes. Plus the late notice was strange… I did not understand. So I scrambled to find another potential project to research, and here I am… in the Philippines researching health care for the poor.

But I expected to be in Uganda right now. And if I was, I would probably not be able to do any research because of the Ebola outbreak. I would have been approximately 136 miles from the outbreak in Kibaale District. Emotionally I am unsure how I would deal with an outbreak so close:

Kagadi, Uganda (CNN) — One of five prisoners receiving treatment for a suspected case of Ebola virus in Uganda escaped overnight Friday from the hospital at the center of the outbreak, a health official said.

“Should his results come back and he is positive, that causes us a lot of worry. So right now, we have resolved that the remaining prisoners will be cuffed on the beds for fear that they might also escape,” said Dr. Jackson Amune, commissioner at the Ministry of Health.

***

My Philippines trip has been risk free. In addition, my wife was able to come with me. I am keeping an eye on the China/Philippines dispute over the Scarborough in the South China Sea. And north of Negros island, Luzon has gotten pounded by rains from Typhoon Gener/Saola… but not nearly as much here in Bacolod. And some of the spiders have been gigantic. As for me, my biggest challenge has been a bad reaction to some unfiltered ice tea… and luggage that arrived 2 days late from the airline.

Of course, I am not thankful for anyone being impacted by this terrible virus. Reading about it from the safety of the Philippines gives me chills. But this has given me a new appreciation for life and how unanswered prayers can sometimes work out.

I am thankful that my expected project in Uganda unexpectedly disintegrated. In February I was frustrated with God about having to scramble to find a new research site when the Uganda orphanage project vanished. But now I am very grateful to be in the Philippines. Whether you are reading this from the Philippines, the United States, England or some other country… I hope you take a moment to count your blessings.

About these ads

Hillary Clinton and Glenn Beck are Finally Working Together!

Hillary Clinton and Glenn Beck are finally working together! It seems difficult enough to imagine these two politically different icons could manage to be happy in the same city together… let along work together. However, according to the Mayan Calendar the end of the World is supposed to happen sometime this year… so that’s probably motivation for them both to reconcile their differences.

When people of politically different viewpoints can work together I believe it really is for the best of the country. The United States has seen far too much petty bickering in Washington D.C. over the past few years. Working together equals a stronger America. Trying to politically one-up someone only leads to political gridlock. So, thank you Hillary and Glenn for setting aside your massive egos to work for a better tomorrow. Thank you for setting a mature example for our children who have grown up in a world littered with political bickering.

Oops, did I say Hillary and Glenn? I meant the liberal Colorado Springs Independent newspaper and ultraconservative Focus on the Familywho are working together to help the community of Colorado Springs recover from the devastating Waldo Canyon Fire. They are the two leaders helping to organize a benefit concert for families impacted by the wildfires.

The ability of these two archenemies to set aside political differences is truly inspirational in this time of need… well played Indy and Focus… well played…

How to be a Christian

Below are links to 3 videos from one of the most powerful sermons I have heard in a long time. It is from Glenn Packiam. This sermon is about how to live like a Christian. If you live like a Christian… then you are living in opposition to the world. You don’t need a sign to show people that you are different. If people know you, they should be able to tell by the words you speak and the things you do that you are different.

I really identified with the NFL metaphor he uses. There are times as a Christian, that I feel like a Bronco fan… sitting at an Oakland Raiders game… in Oakland. I feel like this because I am a graduate student, and if you are in academics then being a Christian means “I automatically lose 50 points off my IQ and that I hate everyone.”

But honestly, I don’t hate homosexuals (but I believe homosexuality is a sin). I don’t hate people who drink (because I also drink) but I believe alcohol in excess is a sin. People who know me know that I am a Christian… but it is not easy to live the life of a Christian because it immediately puts me in opposition to the “world.”

If you have time, I sincerely hope you will check out some of the videos below from Glenn Packiam’s sermon. To me it was one of the best messages I have heard in a few years. I saw it live when I when I was in Colorado.

If you enjoy the message below… share it with others!

Atheist Pastors and their Blind Followers

How does someone go from being a pastor to being an atheist? As I have never pursued the role of church leader I don’t know what it takes to become a leader. But how does someone who was a church leader, now come out and say he/she no longer believes? People can be atheist or agnostic, that is their choice.

But when the leader of the church steps down and says he/she does not believe, it makes you wonder if anything they said as a religious teacher was from the heart… or them just doing a job. Instead of flipping burgers in a dead end job, someone is leading people in church for a dead end job. This story from CNN talks about “Unbelieving preachers get help to ‘come out’ as open atheist.” The personal story featured here makes it sound like the preachers at one time believed, but then lost faith after serving in a church for a while. But it’s not like the preacher flipped a switch and stepped down as soon as he stopped believing. At some point before stepping down, the preacher was preaching things he/she no longer believed.

It makes you wonder how many other religious leaders are “teaching” things they don’t believe. I feel fortunate to have attended churches where I felt confident in the teacher and the people attending the church. I didn’t feel like people in leadership were having any crisis of faith. But it still raises questions about religion and the teachers.

What if the leaders of Westboro Baptist Church (the group that pickets military funerals) doesn’t really believe what they are preaching? How stupid would people attending Westboro Baptist feel if they found out the leaders didn’t “really” believe in their message? What about Terry Jones in Florida (Quran burning and most recently hung an effigy of Obama in front of his church)? What if Jones turned out to be a media attention seeker instead of “really” believing in God?

People in church congregations, whether they are in a mainstream American church or some super-conservative church, have the responsibility of holding their church leaders accountable. It doesn’t matter if the religion is Catholic, Protestant, Islamic, Buddhist, or some other … if people are going to play “follow the leader”– they better KNOW that their leader believes in what he/she is preaching.

I’m questioning the blind followers. Depending the leader… he might ask you to help with a fund raising bake sale, or picket a military funeral, maybe ask you to burn a Quran, or perhaps fly passenger planes into a skyscraper. Does your “leader” believe what he is preaching? Or is your leader just working a dead end job to pay the bills? If you’re not sure, why are you following?

Wife of the Year

So, today is my one year wedding anniversary. I have been so busy with graduate school that I have had little or no time to blog. But today is a special day because of my amazing wife.

We moved here last August. My wife quit her job, left her house, her church, her friends and drove an awkward Penske moving truck (which had repair issues twice with the car trailer) 1600 miles to the Northwest. As I approach the end of my first year of graduate school, there are a lot of things my wife has done to make life easier for me. If you have never been to graduate school…here is a brief sample of my life:

  • I typically read 400 to 700 pages of “intense reading” every week. No cool pictures or anything, it’s all words.
  • I typically write one paper every two weeks. These are double-spaced and are normally 10 pages or longer.
  • I grade papers, tests, and other homework.
  • I teach
  • Plus, allegedly, I am supposed to use my extra time to focus on my research.
  • Sometimes it feels like I study 36 hours a day, eight days a week. If you are considering grad school don’t let this scare you. It is perfectly doable… it’s just A TON of work.

During my first year of grad school my wife has been very supportive of my insane study load. The two main reasons we haven’t had a major blow up are communication and communication.

We have a budget that we discuss every couple weeks because we use the cash system advocated by Dave Ramsey. Being a graduate student I do not get paid millions… and my wife is still unemployed so living on a shoestring budget has been a challenge. But our communication has helped keep the budget under control.

Our communication has also helped us eke out a few of our goals. We had discussed that we wanted to have a backyard farm, which is not easy. My wife does most of it… and I am happy to say that we have 21 hefty cornish cross chickens. Well, we did have 21. Twelve of them have already found their way into the freezer because of the hard work of my wife.

My wife and I pray together… although we do not pray as much as I would like because I study a lot and I’m tired a lot. We attend church together and volunteer together (when I have time).

I reserve one day each week that I devote to her. We sometimes hang out around the house, sometimes we go to Portland or Seattle. We are hoping to go out fishing for the first time within the next couple weeks. She likes fishing, how cool is that!?

My wife is amazing, and I am training her to like football : )

With me poorly estimating how much time grad school would actually take, I am very fortunate to have a wife who does so many things to help… errands, drive me to school, cook, laundry, butcher the chickens, grocery shopping, manage the budget… there are probably many other things I am forgetting. What do I do around the house?

  • I fix things around the house
  • I help feed the chickens
  • I do the dishes
  • I empty the kitty litter boxes
  • Sometimes I go with her to do the grocery shopping just so we can spend some time together.
  • And, that’s about it… I do basically nothing to help around the house. She does a lot.

I love her. I would not trade her for $1.5-Trillion dollars. She is clearly Wife of the Year … and I hope this next year allows more time to be with her!