Shaun & Ashley in Guatemala

Ashley and I have finished our time in Texas at S.O.M (School of Missions) and have started getting settled in and enjoying being back in Guatemala. When we left for Texas we had a residency meeting set for three days after our return flight to Guatemala. So let me tell you the tale of that wonderful day of the traffic, the residency, and the ticket booth.

The day started off leaving New Life Children’s Home at 6:30 in the morning. Our residency meeting was set for 8:30 in the neighboring city. Now in low traffic this is about a half hour drive, so why six thirty in the morning you ask? Traffic… Traffic is why. We were moving literally about five to six feet at a time. This wouldn’t have been so bad except I was driving a standard with a pretty hard-to-push clutch and every time I stopped we…

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In the past I lived with a friend and we would wake up in the morning and somehow end up reading the Bible together at the dining room table drinking cup after cup of coffee. We would just revel in these conversations about the awesomeness of God. Now I mean “awesome” by its real definition not just the cultural slang “awesome” I mean this: “causing feelings of fear and wonder : causing feelings of awe”(Webster definition.) Our entire mornings would be swallowed up just talking about Jesus and the Word of God. The other night I had the opportunity to Skype with that great friend of mine. When we were talking I brought up a blog he shared that just brought me to conviction.

The blog was by John Foreman,(If you want to read it here is the link- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jon-foreman/why-i-refuse-to-protest-p_b_5038207.html,) it was about his response to protesters at one of his concerts. The blog, to be honest, just made me mad at some points. I was mad because I just couldn’t understand how he was able to respond so humbly and Christ-like! I’m not kidding I was literally thinking “No, No way this guy actoully thought and reacted like this! I don’t think I would even be close to thinking what he thought! I would have most likely wanted to just say that they were crazy people and I don’t like them!” But he responded with a desire to understand them, he responded with prayer and Love! He responded like I would imagine Christ would have responded to His “protesters”, He responded with Love, Truth, and Compassion. He understood these people were flawed, sad, scared, and honestly confused. He wanted to give them life, not another fight or counter protest.

All to often I still jump to my “Fight” response. If someone is protesting God, or my view of God, I just want to destroy them! I want to respond with defensiveness and hurt! But this is not how Jesus responded or wants his followers to respond. I think I need to ask myself the good old question “What would Jesus Do?” I don’t think I ask that question enough in my life. As a result I believe I don’t respond as often as I can as Jesus would. Now with the question “What would Jesus do?” I need to study Jesus in the Word so that I may know the answer to that question. You can’t know what Jesus would do without studying His life and His word.

So I hope someday I can respond in Humbleness, Love, Truth, and Compassion. I hope that my mind and heart become so purified and sanctified that my reactions are “Christ like” on more occasions than “flesh like.” I want to walk closer to Christ and represent Him better every day. And I think it’s possible and reachable. I just have to submit myself to Jesus and His Word, study it know it and Love it so I can Live it. And hopefully along the way I can help people around me better understand Jesus and find life in Him.

Love God                                                          Love People                                                   Make Disciples

I’m Growing in Disagreement. Now what I mean by that is I am learning how to better approach, talk about, and “pick apart,” something I, at least initially, disagree with. Disagreement is just a part of life, as long as we have our own opinions we will most likely disagree with someone about something. Lately I have been reflecting on how I disagree. I look at my attitude, my tone, my thought processes, and how I respond. And in light of what I see, I need to change my thought process, and approach to disagreement.

When I encounter a statement, blog, paper, opinion, whatever, I find I disagree with I seem to instantly jump to what I think it implies or what it leads to or what I think they are saying. I get ahead of myself. I need to slow down and see clearly what the person is saying. Michael Horton said this “represent your opponent in a way they would recognize.” He also put’s it with the ninth Commandment which is “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” Basically don’t just jump to what you think they are saying, be able to repeat back to them their view in a way they would agree with. Don’t put words in their mouths. After that you can proceed because now you know what you are really arguing, AKA now you know what your talking about. This also shows that you really are trying to seek understanding here and you not just another arrogant person who “just does not understand.” Now you can respectfully break thinks down and explain why you would disagree (If you still do.)

I think its just hard for our generation to naturally think like this. With all the crazy, and most of the time pointless, debates we have on the internet we rarely approach an issue in a way that seeks understanding. From what I observe we just want to yell out whether we think we agree or if its just trash. I don’t see a lot of real thinking, I see rushed responses, people simply reacting to each other, and not really understanding the issue. And myself included in these observations. I mean none of us would like to admit it but it’s what I see.

So now I try to think differently. I try to understand (really understand not just think I do) the issue at hand and then state my thoughts. I’m doing my best to kick my emotional reactions to the side and really discuss what is being said. I want to be able to disagree with others the way people like Tim Keller, or John Piper do. I want to be able to disagree and respond like my disciplers Don Stubbs and Travis Troyer. You know I just what to be able to respond like I believe Jesus would. I mean that’s the point right!? We are supposed to be more and more like Jesus in everything. Now the men I mentioned above are men that think respond and disagree how I believe Jesus would, they respond in humbleness, they seek understanding, but are uncompromising on the truth of God’s word. I just want to be more like Jesus and this is just another part of me that is being changed to be more like him.

If you want to see the video that really pushed me to confront this issue here it is, it’s fifteen minutes long but its all wisdom.

thegospelcoalition.org/resources/a/chandler_horton_keller_on_how_to_disagree

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I’m really having trouble putting all this to words so please stick with me as a ramble through this. “I am a international missionary.” This title has a expectation that sometimes to be honest seems hard to live up to. I know I have had quite the high idea of international missionaries growing up and it just seemed these people just had a crazy awesome life of ministry. These missionaries just seemed like “better Christians,” whatever that means. Now the problem is I am an international missionary. Let me explain a little bit why this is a problem.

Sometimes I just don’t feel like one! I know surprising right?!? You would think that being surrounded by people that sometimes I can’t understand a singe word coming out of their mouths would make that hard. Or you would think walking around on cobble stoned streets with people carrying baskets on their heads would give me a clue. Or maybe its the crazy number of people who offer me drugs in the street, or maybe the fact that any corner in the city seems to be a bathroom, maybe that would point me in the direction that I am outside of my culture with the mission of proclaiming Jesus. NOPE! Sometimes all I feel like I’m doing is sitting behind a desk with a teacher on the other side teaching me Spanish grammar.. Yup sometimes I feel more like a language student than a missionary.

That’s because at this point in my journey my wife and I are in the preparation stage. Yeah that stage that no one likes to talk about because to be honest… most days it’s not that exciting. Some days look like this; wake up, eat breakfast, read the Bible a little, got to four hours of language school, eat lunch, maybe have a little Bible time with the wife, attempt to do homework, then figure out what to do because you still have a few hours left in the day but your too brain dead to really accomplish anything. Yup that is a day, I mean once in a while a walk down to the market, and coffee with other missionaries happen but most of the time it’s that schedule. It’s crazy how much learning another language can take out of you! It’s exhausting! I tell ya you really don’t feel like a missionary when your brain feels like a vegetable! At moments you feel like nothing is being accomplished an all your doing is wasting time.. But deep down inside I know its vital for my future ministry in this country.

Then something amazing happens! The Lord reminds me why I’m here and how crazy awesome it is that I’m here in Guatemala talking about Jesus! The Lord brings to my mind all the kids at the Children’s Home that I get to live with and teach them about Jesus. He reveals to me the awesome opportunity I have with my language teacher every day as we read a passage of scripture together and talk about what we think it means. I am so blessed with a awesome mission and it blows me away that Jesus literally puts people right in front of me with scripture to use to impact everyday life. I am used by God, I have a purpose, and I get to participate in a life glorifying to God!  People will never be the same because of how God works through me. I say that not to boast about myself but to boast in the awesome work of the Holy Spirit! I get discouraged when I start comparing myself to my thoughts what a missionary is, but when the Lord opens my eyes to what He is doing I’m always blown away and thankful that I get to be a part of it.

God is Good

Love God

Love People

Make Disciples

Love is just so much work sometimes. Let me explain, for almost the past two months I have been in Guatemala at language school frying my brain learning Spanish. When I came here with my wife I was basically starting at zero. So every day I go to language school for four hours then come home with a head that has worked so hard that thinking becomes a task… So as a result reading my bible has become difficult, praying for anything besides “Lord help me learn this.” has been a challenge. Thinking about deep theology has become nearly impossible it seems and all I want to do is well….. NOTHING!! I’m pooped! Exhausted mentally and I just want to sit here and let my mind go blank! I don’t want to read my bible, pray (except for help), or answer theological questions from my wife. I can barley answer any of my own questions at the moment!

So back to my first sentence, Love is just so hard sometimes… Like now! I don’t want to “stop and spend time with Jesus” or “just get in the word” or “lead my wife.” But the reality is I NEED TO!! Don’t get me wrong I still Love my wife and I still Love Jesus. I just have really dropped the ball lately on acting that love out. I haven’t been working hard in these relationships.. with the excuse of “I’m tired!” which we both know is well… stupid.

Ashley and I have been reading our bibles and praying but I just have been putting in a small effort when I know I need to be giving so much more. I am commanded to Love the Lord with all my heart soul mind and strength. I am also commanded to Love my wife. I know Love is more than just telling them I Love them its showing them, with time, with gifts, whatever is required. I am capable of more than what I have been doing. The Lord will supply all I need to complete His tasks. I just need to stop relying on this garbage that is my flesh and run back to Jesus. I need to continue to work out my faith, I need to continue building up in righteousness, and I need to keep reading the life giving Word of God. I need to pray with all my heart and be honest with God. And I need to lead my wife and buy her flowers a little bit more often.

With the Lord I am capable of completing all of my responsibilities. I am capable of Loving my wife, Loving the Lord, learning spanish, and spreading the good news of Jesus. I’m capable of leading my wife, growing my faith, and learning more about the Lord, my first Love. I just need to have more self discipline, put down the games and other things I’m wasting my time with and do what the Lord my master and King has commanded me to do. For one day I will stand before the Lord and I want to hear “well done.”

Lately I have strayed away from studying the Gospels. I’ve purposely avoided them making the excuse to myself that I’ll get more out of these books from Paul rather than trying to “understand Jesus”. You see when I read the Gospels I seem to over think a lot. I will read Matthew and try to find the “deepest meaning” or “what Jesus is really trying to say”. And it becomes exhausting and really not enjoyable to be honest because I just get confused or read too much into something making my own interpretation. Now let me be clear, I’m not saying that there is something wrong with studying the Gospels. There is nothing wrong with looking at what Jesus says on a deeper level, and there is nothing wrong with interpreting Scripture (As long as its rightfully dividing scripture, 2 Timothy 2:15), but what I am talking about is all this pressure I feel to right now understand everything in front of me in the Gospels. I feel like since this is Jesus, the Son of God, the greatest teacher/Discipler, the master of the universe, if He is speaking then I must hear and I must get right everything he is telling or trying to tell me. To be honest its overwhelming and so I have been backing off and avoiding it. So I, a Christian, am intimated by the Gospels, not because of its message but because of all the lessons that can possibly be learned and I want to know them all at once! The Gospels are where we find our standard of living as a Christian! We are to reflect Jesus and to walk as He walked (1st John 2:6)! But you see, instead of letting the Holy Spirit work through me, I have entertained this thought that I am capable of doing this for Him. I can follow this order and be good! But no, NO I can not! It is the work of the Spirit in me! The Gift I have received that works in me, with me! making me capable but not on my own, I must walk with Him, in Him, I must ABIDE! Or all of this fret is but a feeble attempt of pride and self righteousness. If I abide I will learn the lessons the Gospels have for me, in His timing, and His will, as He is preparing me for His ministry. All of scripture pushes you to the Gospels and are all centered around the Great I Am(Jesus Christ).

Now that I have seen my fault I pray for this, I pray that my heart be thirsty for the Gospels. I pray that the Spirit continuously shows me more and more truth and Love of the Gospels. I pray that I abide in Jesus so that I may be fruitful, John 15:4. I pray that I run from my pride and remember His Grace, I pray that I seek no self righteousness, Galatians 2:17-21. I pray that I just Enjoy Jesus in the Gospels and sit at his feet as a child listening to the tales of a wise man. I pray for patience, for Lord your will be done. And Lord help me in my times of unbelief, and restore my Joy as I let it so easily slip away. And I pray that it will bring me to a better confidence in sharing the Gospel. Thank you Lord for the abundant blessings you give me that sometimes I fail to see.

 Galatians 2:17-21-

But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

 

Early this spring I went to Niagara Falls with my soon to be wife Ashley, and our good friends Tal and Natasha. It was a much needed trip to just enjoy friends and recharge. I think I needed this trip more that I could have thought at the moment. This trip reawakened something inside me that I really needed back….. adventure!

This all sparked from really one moment in the trip. We had just got done looking at the falls and we were walking upriver to cross to the other side. I looked over at a log sticking out of the rushing water and all I could do was think about siting on that log. I wanted to sit there with my legs in the water just feeling the water rushing over and around me with such beautiful force. I wanted to feel the terrifying power of the falls. Of course Ashley told me no so I stayed on shore haha. But it really made me realize something, I Love to me in the midst of Gods rushing power! Its a terrifying yet peaceful thing. I men lets be honest the power of God is terrifying when you think about it, a God who can stop your existence at any moment if He wills! A God who has risen and destroyed nations! The God who sets mighty storms, the God who can rain fire from the heavens, the great creator! But yet there is a peace, a peace of security. Knowing that I have a inheritance from this God given to me from Jesus. This God is on my side! He is my protector and my provider. His wrath is not pointed at me but at devil and his schemes. The feeling really overwhelms me and fills me with thankfulness, wonder, and Love for my God. I wonder if this is something I may share with my biblical hero David. For constantly he was in the midst of Gods mighty power. As I read his Psalms I see Gods might and power constantly mentioned. I know not all of Davids heard but maybe he shared this feeling I have. I dont know but what I do know is it brings me closer to God.

All of this It revealed to me that adventure shows me something about God that I just love to dwell in, His mighty power. As I look back it seems that its in my time of adventure that I saw this power most. Maybe its time for more adventures

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When I came back to Off the Wall after the summer I had the task of leading a whole new house of interns. I had some time before they all got here to settle in to the new house and just figure out what standards I wanted to set and what expectations I had for the house this year. I wanted to make sure I was leading these new guys like adults and not like the kids I lead at camp. These guys were adults and I expected that from them. I expected a commitment to learn and a level of teachablity to match. They were coming here, and I was going to hold them to the standard of the commitment that is discipleship.

When they all arrived my first observation was that this was a very young group. They were just in most aspects “young”, young in their maturity, some in age, and just young in life experience. For allot of them this was the first time someone wasn’t taking care of them. Off the Wall was the first real step outside of home. Off the Wall provided the bear needs and anything extra they would have to provide themselves. They quickly discovered what were needs and what were simple luxuries that they never thought about. It was interesting seeing them slowly discover how little we actually need.

I started to get a pretty good picture of what God had set before me. I knew allot of these lessons would take time and investment before they would accept criticism and truly take what I would present to them. I was not their main discipler and they did not truly give me that authority to really push them yet. Now they said with their words that they wanted me too but as the old saying holds “actions speak louder than words.” This was fine for the beginning of the semester but as time went on I began to be disappointed in the level of improvement. Off the Wall is discipleship and community, and what I was seeing was an extreme neglect in community. Community has a tight hold on discipleship and when community is failing it seems discipleship fails as well. I began to get frustrated because I was trying so heard to improve this community but I saw an extreme lack of participation and effort from the interns to make this better. There was so much talk of “we could do this…” or “I think we need to do this…” but no action was ever taken. It was allot of expecting things to just… well happen.. This ate at me and I began to question if my expectations were to high for this group we have here… We had a very tight and unique group last year and I began to question if I was expecting it to be the same.

Well turns out having the expatiation of this group being last years group was present. So I adjusted that, but in analyzing my goals and expectations for these guys I saw Godly expectations and I refused to compromise on those. I would be failing them as a biblical leader if I lowered these goals and expectations for these guys. I wanted them to grow in Godliness and leadership. To become inspirational men of God. I expect growth and I expect relationships to deepen. I expect a commitment to discipleship because thats why they are here. What changed for me was my acceptance of the fact that it is okay for these guys to fail. To fail and learn and not expect them to always succeed. I am not responsible for their responses to teaching and growth, it’s up to them and they will take in as much as they allow themselves. All I can do is provide a push here and there and speak truth and leave them with their responsibility. I am not responsible for what they allow God to do in their lives.

Now in this new semester I have seen an amazing transformation in this group. They came back from break with a whole new passion for discipleship and what God has for them. They are so much more teachable and it shows. There is less talk of what we should be doing and more doing! I see much better time management, more conversation is biblical, and I just see a new Love for each other. Now I am so proud of these guys, these guys now show the passion and the Love for Jesus that I had only seen in spurts. I see the boldness that is required from Godly men and all of this just excites me! It really has been a transformation and I thank God for the work He has done in these men these past few months.

I’m thankful that I was allowed to be a part of the transformation to these saints. They are becoming striving men of God and I could never be happier with what the Lord has done with these guys. I’m really proud of them and I can’t wait to see what the Lord does with their lives if the continue to fallow in obedience and be men of God

“Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.” Titus 2:2

“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:12

The fall

The Result of the fall

The effects of the fall

The looking of God at this world and having to say “It’s Broken”

That simple childish phrase “It’s Broken” bears weight, it touches our hearts, it breaks our hearts

“It’s Broken” — it’s powerful, it speaks so much, it’s sad

It’s not tarnished, It’s not dirty

“It’s Broken”

When “It’s Broken” it’s either thrown away or you have to go to great lengths to fix it

When “It’s Broken” it’s out of order, it’s not functioning

When “It’s Broken” it’s not accomplishing its intended purpose

When “It’s Broken” it has been fractured or damaged and no longer in one piece, it’s rejected, defeated, or despairing.

“IT’S BROKEN”

Now there is pain, now there is impatience

Now there is killing, death, and work is hard

There is sickness, shame, crying, and starving

There is deformity, agony, and abomination

There is hate, jealousy, screaming, and yelling, shouting and war.

“IT’S BROKEN”

Children without parents, children beaten, children starving, children on the streets without home or care

Children without Love

Children stolen, twisted, killing, and crying

“IT’S BROKEN”

It’s broken

So for a while now I have been praying about the direction Ashley and I were going to take in living our lives together for Christ. What I mean is what were we going to do? were we going to stay in the states with Off the Wall making disciples, or were we goin to Guatemala and the Liga de Vida Nueva (New Life children’s home) to disciple the children there… both options were glorifying to God, both are lead by the command of Jesus to go forth and make disciples(The Great Commission Mathew 28:16-20) and both options are good (really there are three options because God could take us anywhere He wants and that could be neither of these options but that’s a whole other topic of discernment.) As I was seeking an answer in this decision I was making sure that I wasn’t choosing an option because it was the easiest or simply what I or Ashley wanted to do. I didn’t want to stay here simply because I was comfortable here and I didn’t want to go to Guatemala simply because that’s what she planned on before we got together, (I didn’t want to go there to just make her happy, because then my heart wouldn’t be in it) to go to Guatemala Jesus would have to break my heart for those kids because although I have a passion for kids and missions I didn’t break for these kids and I had an attachment here in the US. . We are becoming one so everything changes now, our previous commitments change, and our previous plans that we may have had for our lives change. We needed to find out now how we are going to best serve God together. We needed to find out how to have a united ministry. Through prayer and much Godly counsel and discussion it came down to these options; serving God here in the US making disciples, or going to Guatemala and serving the children’s home and disciplining the children and people there.

 

So this past week I attended “Mosaic” a young adult bible group where we come together to read the Word and be challenged. That night I was asked to help lead worship, Josh was playing the guitar and I was playing the cajon. So things started off normal we sang and worshiped and then Don came up to lead the discussion/message. The topic for the night was Discipleship, after showing a video Don got up and prayed to start things off. After he started with a question like “do you ever feel like all you hear is the pain of this world?” then something took him and he began to break down and cry, as I sat I began to cry with him. He collected himself and prayed a few more times, then asked what are we doing about it? Are we disciples? Do we act like it? he began to cry again. As I began to cry again all I could see was a child standing before me. The child and I were standing in the dirt and the child was looking up at me and smiling. I bent down to the child and put my hands on his shoulders looked into his little eyes and said “I want to help make you more like Christ, I Love you.” And I had children around me and I wanted to disciple them. My heart broke for these kids and somehow I knew that this represented the children in Guatemala. My heart was broken for these kids that I have only heard about and I wanted to help them, I wanted to invest in their lives and teach them how to be godly. Don collected himself finished his lesson with the Great Commission. Josh and I went up to finish up the night with a song and we sang “With Everything” and my heart just continued to break. By then end of the song all I could do was sit on my drum with my head in my arms crying, weeping for these children. I was filled with a Love and a desire for these kids, I knew now that this was the confirmation I had been praying for. The Lord did exactly what He needed to do to send me on this path, He broke my heart for the children that I will be going to disciple, He broke my heart specifically for them.

 

So now starts the final preparation of raising support and preparing to go to Guatemala with the Love of my life to do the work of discipleship in the lives of the children in Liga de Vida Nueva (New Life children’s home). This is going to be hard but I trust the Lord to lead me in the right direction and I trust Him to take Ashley and I through any challenge before us. I know this is crazy but here we go, we are going to Guatemala for a minimum of 2 years while facing the challenge of a newly wed life! But we Love Jesus and we Love each other so I think we will make it standing bright and strong for the Lord. I believe the Lord is taking us in this direction and I intend to obey.

 

Mathew 28:19-20– “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”