Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Thank you everyone for your prayers while we were in Bristol this weekend. While we did get to experience some pretty awesome race weekend stuff our purpose was to serve the people who are a part of NASCAR on a weekly basis through leading music at the 2 chapel services. What a blessing! We hope God gives us the opportunity to do it again, but for now we will praise him for the time we spent in the Temple that is Bristol Motor Speedway and among the fans, drivers and crews.

By the way, the people of MRO (Motor Racing Outreach) are a great bunch...pray for them and their ministry.

Here are a few pics from our weekend.

Are you Trusting Religion instead of the Cross?

Flood Zone Recap

From Mark Driscoll

9 Distinctions Between the Gospel and Religion:

Religion-A Theology of Glory
Gospel-A Theology of the Cross

Be devoted to and serious about the Gospel...not religion.

Religion tells you “if you obey, then God will love you”
The Gospel says “because God loves you, you want to obey”
-Dad’s love will make you better
-God’s love changes us

Religion is prone to see “good people” and “bad people”
-list by which we judge people
-preach repentance but don’t practice it because “we’re the good guys”
The Gospel sees bad people (sinners) and Jesus
-We’re all sinners and there is one good guy
-It’s not whether your a sinner but whether you are repentant
-The first word of the Gospel is “repent”
-”Heretics are people who don’t preach or practice repentance.” J.I. Packer

Religion is about getting from God and using God
-Idolatry and Paganism
-Manipulating God to use God to get what you want
-When God doesn’t give you what you want then you get angry, frustrated and give up on God.
The Gospel is about getting God
-God gives to you himself
-A bigger deal than healing, money or a new car

Religion sees hardship as punishment

The Gospel sees hardship as loving correction from a Good Dad
-God disciplines the children that he loves
-God already punished Jesus...the penalty has been paid

Religion is very aware of other people’s sins
-like to confess the sins of others
-pushes unbelievers away
The Gospel is very aware of my own sin
-confess their own sin
-leads to a humility that invites others to know God

Religion is primarily concerned with the external and the visible
The Gospel is primarily concerned with how the heart looks

Religion is uncertain about salvation
-”I’m Trying my best”
The Gospel is about certainty
-”It is Finished”
-1 John

Religion is about self-righteousness
-The root of all religion
-Performance based
The Gospel is about gift-righteousness
-2 Corinthians 5:21-The Great Exchange
-You can’t add to the righteousness that is given by Christ
-Accompanied by the Holy Spirit to live a new life

Religion results in...
The Gospel results in Holy Happiness

Where do you see that you are depending on Religion instead of the Gospel? Pray that the Holy Spirit will work in your life in these areas, helping you recognize when you are trusting in Religion instead of the Cross.

Joey Update Vol. 22

The phone rang, but there was only an automated French voice. It told me the
person I was trying to reach was out of coverage area. Where can he be, I
wondered. Finally, in the night I got through. After the standard greetings
and "afe's" I get around to asking him where he's been all day. "I was
working in the field," he replied. The field. The very place I should be, I
thought. "Can I go with you tomorrow?" I ask.

"Tomorrow" turned out to be a few days after that. Work in the field
is still contingent on the weather (when it rains horizontally, there is
little work to be done in the field) but finally the weather cleared and
finally I got hold of my friend again. "Tomorrow," he said. "I am going to
my field tomorrow." So, I went with to his house at the early hour he'd set.
We drank coffee and ate some gateaux for breakfast, packed some provisions
for the field (I think people eat better in the field than they do in their
house) and set out with the donkey.

We get to his field and finally get down to- drinking more coffee
and bariya, a soupy grain drink mixed with sugar and spice. After this, he
hands me a jarai, the tilling tool of choice, and we get to his field with
his children. There were laughs at first as I was getting the hang of
tilling my first field ever, but soon I could pick out the plants that we
were working to save and those slated for uprooting. In this learning
process, I killed my fair share of good plants and it caused me to till
cautiously, asking his children who were beside me, "Is this plant a good
plant?" "No, it's a weed; kill it."

I worked only an hour or so, not enough even to callous my hands,
but it is hard work indeed. We drank more coffee and set out again for home.
I was offered the donkey to ride on the way back and though I deferred at
first, I was compelled to ride and so I did. Many people were surprised at
seeing a white person, wearing nasara clothes (they're better for field work
than the long local dress) and a turban to keep the sun off, working in the
fields and riding back to town on a donkey.

This was my first field work experience and I went in order to build
up the relationship with this man and his family. I think I made a good
impression- after all he called me "Bub tileh" - father of farming- though
maybe he was quick with his praise. Later that same week, I went out to
another field belonging to someone else and worked longer though again not
to calluses. It was here that I did my first field test.

We were taking one of the long necessary breaks from working under
the hot African sun, and during the downtime, I took out my recorder and
played a story for the man I went with. I asked him what he thought of it
and some more questions related to it. I was glad at his answers and his
willingness to hear it. I am also glad at the portability of the story. But
even though it is portable and takes only a few minutes to hear, it is
sometimes difficult to discuss the story. This particular time was not, but
it is a frequent obstacle me and my teammate have seen in sharing some of
the stories.

For this, I have a few Requests you can be making for me and the
team here. But first, the Hamdu's:

-My first time out in the field and the impression I made on those I went
with (dead, good plants notwithstanding)
-Further stories crafted and begun on their process to completion
-I'm learning again to praise Him for the small things and be thankful in
the little things. Small steps forward, are still steps.

-Lift up the story crafter need, as it is constant and becoming a greater
need daily as we want the stories to branch out
-Lift up a change in schedule for our team here- it involves us leaving the
town earlier and traveling to the capital. After staying there for a while,
we will hopefully return to the town where we have built our main
relationships and done our main work. Please lift up this time of
rescheduling for our team and that the time in the capital would be used to
good effect.
-Lift up the various stresses of change*, that it would work for us and not
against us.
-Finally, lift up the next few weeks that we would be working diligently to
complete the many tasks on the stories in time for our next training in Nov.

In our Study of the Book, we are looking at Ecc., that often
perplexing book, mixed as it is with "vanity" and true wisdom. I feel the
same can be said of our work here, it is mixed with blessing and stresses.
Yet through this, I am learning that old, old lesson again: That Je5us meets
us in our trials and gets to know us better under our afflictions. And I am
learning (again) to trust Him in the midst of change. Trust Him with me!


*If I should count the many transformations of this work since the time I
first heard of it, I would run out of fingers and toes! Through all the
changes (coming, leaving, coming back again, etc.) I believe strongly that
this work is of Him and He will use our work, complete or incomplete, for
His glory.

Joey Update Vol. 21

I find it amazing how when you give your plans over to the Lord, He will
give them back to you, enriched by His having touched them. It was the day
after I wrote the piece on idolatry that the actual plan, no longer an idol
to me having given it to Him, came to pass. Indeed, the very day after I
wrote, we were on the road towards Yao.

This came after a month of rather frustrating stops and starts, but
definitely more stops. We took a truck to a central town and got out there.
We rested a little from the journey of 75 bumpy kilometres. We were told
there might be another truck to take us right to Y. As we were inquiring
into this, a rainstorm overtook the whole area. It rained such that it was
not so much "falling" as being hurled from heaven. Needless to say, the rain
washed the air clean, but also washed our road and the way of our truck out
of our plan.

New plan. Take a pousse the 50 kilometers from this town to Y. A pousse is a
cart drawn by a single horse and driven by a young child, at least ours was.
No problem, except for money and time. The cost was great (due to the recent
pelting rain) and the way was an eight hour sun-baked and bouncy experience.
Still, it was my first ride on a pousse and THE way to travel authentically.
We crossed the river which is now in full swing and at one point the horse
stumbled in the water and we all had to bail off so he could stand up. We
waded the water. During our travel, we got to see much of the countryside.
Picture a scene of savannah minus all the cool animals like lions and
elephants. This, punctuated by the invasive scent of rotting sheep and cows
who died in the recent rains and been left to their rot, and you have a good
picture of our travel. Did I mention the sun was hot and burny?

Anyway, we arrive in Y, greet the sultan and actually get to stay at his
house! Also we salve our burns with some ancient sunscreen I happened to
bring with me (I always forget my nose though). Our time there was good
although we did not share any stories. We mostly hung out with the sultan
and his staff. We were treated to a tour of sorts that was also a quest for
telephone reception, a particularly iffie opportunity in Yao. We found it at
last and saw much of the countryside around Y. When we returned, we were
treated for a trip on Lake Fitri, the lake on which Y. is built. We took the
sultan's boat and motor, which clogged with grass every few minutes and told
not to touch the water from the boat for the many fishing lines that are
left in it. The fishing line is just that, a stick with a string of ten to
twenty hooks tied on at various intervals and planted in the water to wait
for the fish to bite. Large ones I'm told are sold to other countries, while
the small ones are dried and eaten locally.

Although we did not share stories, this being our first trip out, we did
make a few good contacts and establish some presence in town. If people were
surprised that two white guys would travel by pousse all the way to Y.
(which we did and they were) they were likewise surprised and pleased that
these same white guys could speak N. with them! We met the family of the
person who acted more or less as our guide to Y. They invited us back which
we said we would take them up on. In this culture there are certain channels
to go through if you want to meet someone properly and often being
introduced to someone through someone else is better than meeting them
alone. Our friend and guide knew the way and the channels properly and I for
one was grateful to him. We plan to return when the rainy season stops.
Our trip back was the trip there in reverse. Another eight hour trip,
although the sun was now taken into account, another fall- this time due to
a break of the rope that tied the pousse to the horse. No one was too badly
hurt. We did get back home after it all. It was good to finally get to go
and I do hope more comes it than I now know. While the trip was good, it was
not terribly productive as far as direct project goals is concerned.

-We finally got to the Bil. Capital!
-The many meetings there were blessed
-My first ride on a pousse!

-Our opportunity to return to the Bil. Capital after rainy season
-The few good contacts we made there
-Our relationship with the man who took us out there- I'll call him Sherman.
He lives in our town but has family in Y.
-Progress on stories now that we're back

Thanks for lifting me up through some of the hard times of waiting. A desire
accomplished is sweet to the soul! I hope to further see my desire to see
the transformation of this PG through His word in their language! Keep on
lifting this up.