Monday, December 7, 2009

"Nice" is not enough. Will the real men please stand up?

Many of you who have known me for years know that i truly despise the thought of being labeled as a "nice guy." (especially my mother) The thought of being told i am just a "nice guy" by someone truly scares me. Untold depths are reached when this label is assumed upon me. It's as if i'm a beautiful black stallion running free. But then someone labels me an ass. Quite, pleasant, and dependable. When i hear these words i cringe. I think. Can't there be more to an honorable man than that? What happened to the adventures side of my life? Where did the strength that i carry go?

For years (since i was in my early teens) I have struggled to find the words to describe my intense opposition to the term "nice guy." I have often spouted off frustrations that "nice guys" are "boring." Even that nice guys only exist because they lack the true conviction to live a life of incredible passion for Jesus that shifts atmospheres. Many of you who know me well have at least heard me express my frustration with "nice guys" and their lack of operational conviction, passion, and plain old "interestingness." If that's even a word.

I still struggle to find the appropriate words to describe my frustration. It is truly a journey i am on. It's an on going revelation to be sure. One thing though. I'm not alone. Many men out there. Godly men. Are living a life unsatisfied with what they see. Wanting more. More of life, more of their beautiful God. Not happy with this persona that people place on them of being "nice" christian guys.

Yesterday myself and a few of my roommates were talking. And one of my roommates Kevin was talking. And he shared with us this bit of his blog he was working on. It truly helps to put words to much of what my heart has known for years.

Below i submit to you the words of my roommate. His wisdom is profound and truly heartfelt. Beloved, i tell you the truth. The world needs more men like Kevin. Men who are willing to reach deep inside themselves to discover who God made them to be. Men who are not satisfied with the realities that this world is offering them. But seeks a deeper, truer reality. The one our father God lives in. The kingdom of our God.

Kevin Ernst- When Kind and Gentle Breaks

Our generation has found men lost in a desperate game of striving to be strong. Whether forging a body of muscle, finding a position of definition, or developing an uncanny lust for women's flesh; a man is looking for true power, real defining, and a depth of intimacy lost to him. We have husbands committed to abusing their loved ones with intimidation. We have university professors who give nothing but their knowledge. And we have ministers who create orphanages with their people's hearts. Our old men are dieing as children. No one wants to be discovered as week or out of control; but the reality is, many men are powerless in their character and have lost all vulnerability to their need for intimacy. Men are seeking for something to hide their outrageous fear.

For most of my life I have been characterized as a "nice" guy. Bull shit. I hate being thought of as powerless, insignificant, and a shell of a man. When I hear the words, "you are nice;" I hear a voice saying, "you are a weak man." And the hurtful truth is, this is what I often believe about myself. There must be a place where kindness and gentleness have power.

I think nice turned into weak when men gave away their strength for fear and passivity. I have met women who despise their nice men. Men whose pleasant facades are ripped apart in the rooms of secret, only to reveal the brutality of a caged animal or the spineless disappearance of a partner. These "nice" ones are simple pretenders who have never known real strength of character and self control. They were never taught that their raging, or their secrets, render their brides unprotected and ruined. A woman's need for empowered unity is forgotten in the waves of spiritual ignorance. The truth is; men, myself included, have great spiritual power and they are exercising it. We just don't believe it's true.

When father's don't father and mother's raise our sons alone, boys don't grow up to become men. They reach into their hearts and the world around them to be defined. But what they find in those places is the very lack they were hoping to fill. I was recently told that what was NOT given to us is much more damaging than the abuse or traumas that happen to us. When I think back on my own life, it was not so much the cancer that hurt my character, but the lack of confidence imparted to my boys heart that faulted my foundation. You can kill cancer, but how does a parent give a child courage when he or she has none?

The voice of the day would declare that security in life is finance, and good character development is knowledge of the rules. But when did rules create self governing empowered people, and money rescue anyone from something as inevitable as death? They don't. People are not made strong by what they do or what they possess. For life does not come from what. Life comes from who. And that who is the one who imparts a father's heart. His name is Jesus. He is God. He is love himself. He is our Father. You see, we who are fathered by Life are not victims to a fatherless generation.

Being fathered is something that I am powerless to do. I cannot father myself. My hands are clenched around the tools of protection: passivity, anger, position, power, distraction, pain, and lack of value. These tools have guarded my broken heart. Who wouldn't despise the obvious embrace of lies? Who wouldn't fear the destruction that comes with the truth of my need? I can see it in you, but God forbid you reveal it in me. I am terrified that you might see me as I really am. A man in need of a father.

Our tools of protection are often used as weapons to drive away the truth that others bring. This is why kindness is powerful. Kindness and gentleness destroy the fear of your approach. It allows for the place of pain to be be healed. How could I think of God any different than a tyrant when nearly every example I have known is of men fighting for their own identity and value? It is kindness that has allowed me to approach the living God as father. And God is love. And rejection gets blown up in the presence of love. And love is patient...kind...not self seeking...or rude. We are fathered by The Father.

I want to know God as my Father at the very core of me. I want to see men who are powerful in their identities as beloved sons. I want the world to know Jesus as he really is: good, gentle, kind, and even nice when nice is powerful in love.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

more awesome testimonies

Just a few quick ones i gota share that some students told in class.

1) girl with 8000-9000 dollars of medical bills because she got sick without insurance. Hospital wrote and said that she didn't owe them anything. She got her debts paid off. Woohoo!! Totally God.

2) Women had a relative come to bethel two weekends ago with brain cancer. Big tumor in her head. Doctors didn't expect her to make it to christmas. She got prayer at church on friday and also in the healing rooms on saturday. In the healing rooms on saturday she had one of her ears pop while receiving prayer and a ton of drainage and fluids came out of her head thru her ear. The lady went to the doctor this week and they told her that her cancer is in full remission! Which they weren't expecting. haha.

So i say, Yay God!! and if you need one of these breakthroughs. Claim it as your own. It's in Gods heart to heal you. Always. Because he loves you.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sweet manifestation of God

So the other day. Wednesday a week ago to be specific. I was sitting in class and one of the pastors was teaching on breaking down fear in our lives. It was such a good word. Spoke out of love. Part of the way thru his talk i started to hear water running. Like a brook of water flowing. I began to look around to see if someone's iPhone or computer was making the noise and if other people were noticing it. For about 5 minutes it continued to get louder and softer. After looking around like a psychotic person i realized that i was the only one in the room noticing the sound. What's more. I was hearing it with my own two ears. My physical ears! haha. It was SOO weird. And fun.

So after class. I asked around and no one heard anything like a stream of water flowing from the back left part of the room like I had heard. So i came to the conclusion that it was a manifestation of God given only to me that day. In revelations chapter 1 verse 15 it says, "His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters." This passage is a description of Jesus Christ as he gives the prophetic revelation to John. You see what it says? The Jesus' voice is like the sound of flowing water. I asked the Lord what it all meant. The sounds of water flowing. Everything. He told me that he was speaking truth into peoples spirits, into their hearts. Washing away the foundations of fear the they had built their lives upon.

I thought this was totally sweet so i decided to share it to everyone. I was totally obvious the Jesus was doing something in class that afternoon by the way people were getting rocked in class. And by how much people were talking about how amazing it was that day. But it's even more amazing when the Lord manifests himself tangibly in the natural so we can see what he is dong.

God is SOOO cool!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Welcome to the new adventures of Joel. The kid from Alaska.

I have now decided to take this blog i created for my trip to Sudan. And revamp it to be a all things God blog. But mostly a testimonies blog. Telling what God has been doing around me. The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Rev. 19:10)
When we profess a testimony of what God has done for us. People hear it and it inspires faith in their hearts. Which then brings them to a place where that testimony can be duplicated in their lives.

I hope this blog inspires faith in your hearts. To see the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our God.

First testimony i want to give is of a new friend of mine here at school. She is from Finland and when she came here she had really bad food allergies. Last week our class went on a retreat as part of our curriculum. Driving on the way to the retreat grounds she was describing to another girl in her car about her food allergies. And that she had brought her own food to the retreat just to be safe. She told her friend that she would love to just taste chicken again. Her friend in the car with her simply said, "Lord bring on the chicken." The next day my friend was in the chow line for a meal and when she got to the end of the table she noticed that there was chicken being served. She decided that she was going to just try it. Believing that Jesus had healed her. And well... she ate it! And she didn't get sick and have to go to the hospital! It's amazing, her life has been completely changed. She has spent the last week testing out all her food allergies. And all her major ones that would have sent her to the hospital are gone. Every one! God totally healed her. I know, because i ate dinner with her the other night. And she ate a chicken salad. :)

So... If you are reading this. And you have food allergies. Believe, and receive your healing. :) Call me. I'll pray for you. Food allergies don't have to plague your life anymore! Our God is bigger than that infirmity!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

On my way home.

Hey all. I'm in Malakal now. On my way back home. It will take me 3 weeks to get home so i have a long journey ahead of me. Thanks for keeping me in your prayers. Atar was very good. I will update you all about it later.

Monday, April 27, 2009

In Atar Safe

In Atar safe everyone. I'm actually in Malakal tonight. I came here on a supply run for Atar. Might be able to get interenet again here in 2 weeks.

Just wanted you all to know.

Things are going well. I'm excited about the work in Atar. Lots of freindship building. Language learning. Some construction. And evengelizm in surrounding areas.



Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Leaving for Sudan today

Hey all.

I'm headed off to Sudan again today. I'll be going to a new place called Atar. It's a little ways southwest of Malakal. I'll be helping out with whatever is needed. And it sounds like they're trying to do a young adults conference there. Which many of you know is right up my alley. I really like working with young adults. It will be a exciting time. I'm expectant that God is going to invade earth. Which is... something the Lord has been teaching me.

I will only have a short stint in Sudan. 6 weeks or so. I come out on the 5th or 6th of June. Atar is a remote base. At least 4 hours from malakal by boat. No internet, power, or facilities at all. Should be fun. But again. An interesting challenge.

Pray that i can finish strong.

Pray that i have the faith to believe that God not only can do miraculous things. But WILL do them. And that i would walk in that place where heaven invades earth.

Pray for the breakdown of stereotypes that i will face as i work with a new people. I'm not exactly the stereotypical missionary the people are used to.

Pray that my Love for God grows. And that it is evident to the people. And that out of that love for God. Out of the overflow. I would love the people too.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Update From Nairobi

Hey Guys. Just a quick update here.

I'm in Nairobi now. Will be till the 23rd. Then i head back into Sudan.

Things are going well. I'm leading a group of five short termers over to Uganda for another rafting adventure. Should be fun.

I'm glad to be in Kenya for a break. Things in Sudan were getting really stressful for me. For many reason.

I would ask you all to pray for Rob Hinton and his wife. They both have an enormous responsibility put on them in Sudan. Especially Rob, because he is in charge of the building project for the new clinic. And unless you've worked in Sudan or Africa i don't think i would be able to describe to you how hard a job it is to get this project done. Especially on time and within budget. Pray that the goodness of our God is every before them. Pray for un-offend-able spirits. And continued good sense of humor. :)

I've been having a restful time in Kenya. I get to spend a decent amount of time with an old friend of mine i grew up with, matt dompier. And i got to see another old friend of mine that was one his own trip to Sudan, and i had diner with him. It has been a great encouragement to me to see them both.

Something the Lord has been teaching me lately is my need to bring my faith to maturity. Like it talks about in James ch. 1
This maturity is fostered thru trials of many kinds. My time in Sudan has certainly been trials of many kinds. Many of which, i will admit. I have not dealt with very well. But i am assured that God is bringing maturity thru these situations. I am very thankful for that.

Well, i'm out for now. Write if you wanna know more... Emails that is.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

105 in the shade

Hey all.

Things have been pretty good here in Sudan. The dry hot season has been going on for the last few months. I’ve been keeping myself busy as always. Doing whatever needs done here to keep operations going on the base. The clinic has been super busy lately. They see a lot of malaria cases this time of year. Yesterday they saw around 80 patients. And work at the nutrition village I hear is going well. Although they have had some rather challenging cases. Not all with desired results. But, God is good. His unfailing love stretches to the ends of the earth. From Alaska to Sudan. God is Love. And he never changes.

The Lord has provided our team here at Doro with a new couple from the UK. Rob and Emily Hinton. Rob is a mechanical engineer and Emily is a doctor. They are a breath of fresh air. With new perspectives and knowledge. Rob is here as the main engineer and project manager for a new primary health clinic that we’re building. They arrived about a month ago.

Construction has started on the new PHCU. Although not without TONS of challenges. Many of which had to do with community relations. From government, tribal, and church sides. There were all kinds of complaints and opposition. But some how in the last month it seems like most of them have smoothed over. We have gotten the foundation dug for one of the new buildings. Which is no small task mind you. Since it was dug by hand. With picks and shovels. By two local men who apparently specialize in digging. If you saw the work they did you’d be amazed that it was hand dug. I will try to post some pictures. But just imagine a 30mX8mX1m trench. Dug with shovels. Wow!

Also we have been able to get more supplies for the building project just this week from Raubak. Which is a town in the north. This was no small task. We sent our compound manager Nehemiah up to take care of the order and travel back with the supplies.

There has been tribal fighting here along the Dinka/Mabaan border (dinka being another tribe other than the one I’m working with now, the mabaan) . This is unfortunate because we have both Dinka and Mabaan students in our community health worker training school. This has of course created some tension and drama. As of now though we here in Doro have nothing to fear. The fighting is at least 5 hours drive from here. It is unlikely to come here. Especially since we’re neither Dinka or Mabaan. So SIMs presence should go unquestioned.

This violence is yet another round to add to what has already happened this year. I have not mentioned much of it. Because I am not worried about it. Nor do I want any one reading about it to worry. The Lord is my front and rear guard. I have nothing to fear. However, I choose to mention it now mostly out of a massive sadness. There have been several tribal conflicts already this year. As well as some other major militia dispute in Malakal. It seems as if the people want to tear their own country apart. No sense of national unity between the southern tribes seems to exist. Except in their hate for the North, and the oppressive government out of Khartoum. I would ask that you remember this as you pray for Sudan and for me being here. The Lords will be done here. But I personally would love to see a flood of Holy Spirit driven peacemakers come into this country. To begin the healing process from the many years of war.

This stretch of time in Sudan has been much more diffecult than the last one before January. For many reasons. The heat has certainly played a factor. But much of the last few months has been spent it many spiritual battles and struggles. Unlike anything else I’ve ever faced.

I am confident that God will bring justice to the earth and to Sudan. In his timing. It is not my job to improve on his justice. Or to say when he should do things. But only to do the things I can. As he tells me too. For his glory.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging....
Come and see the works of the Lord, the desolation he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire. Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.
The Lord almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

Psalm 46

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Think about it.

What would it look like for you? 

For you to live and love relentlessly recklessly for Jesus?

To restlessly seek that recklessness that will challenge and seek to change human history until it conforms to the norms of the Kingdom of God.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Part 2

Hikus of time out of Sudan last month:

Went rafting in green Uganda.
Rode most epic white water in existance.
Good trip truly was had.

Lived in big african city.
Cold winter nairobi weather not really cold.
Good fellowship ensued by all. 

Now back working in Sudan.
Hot season weather here is insanly HOT.
Sweating all day long working.

Ok, So that was what happened in January. If you need detail then email me. I'm much better at returning emails. 

I'm now back in Doro. Working. The base now has 13 full time SIM staff members. Both the CHW school and BELC schools are up and running.

I just took a trip up to a town up near the north/south border called Renk. I was sent there with a sudanese friend of mine to go get supplies of wood and cement for construction projects coming up. The trip went reasonably well. It was ruff traveling in a big flat bed truck called a "lori." And the heat here is becoming quite unbearable. Some of the hottest weather i've felt was on that trip. It was similar to taking a blow dryer and sticking it in front of your face. A few days ago our thermometer said that it was 100deg in the shade, which is about average. So i decided to take it into the sun. Within a minute it shot up well past 120deg and topped it out. So i honestly have no clue how hot it is. 

Things here in Doro have had there ups and downs. We've had several little kids pass away in the last 2 weeks. Two from malaria, and one from severe malnutrition. It tends to hit the team hard when we loose little kids. It is quite a difficult and new lesson for me to learn. About the pain and brokenness in this world. Especially in this way. 

Things that you can pray for:

1) Relations with the local church are tense. Because of people motivated by self interests and a lack of integrity. 

2)dealing with the loss of patients. Especially ones with easily preventable illnesses like malnutrition. 

3)Team dynamics and unity within the group of missionaries. A unity the ONLY comes from the Holy Spirit. And not a false unity created by belief systems or personalities. 

4) My future plans. As i only have a few months here. And i'm still unsure about my plans for re-entry back into America.  

I also posted pics of my trip to Renk on photo bucket. Link is on upper right. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Where I was? Part one.

Welp... my dear faithful readers. I, as you can well see, have not been so faithful with this blog. But alas, i now finally have a computer that i can use regularly and now i can devote some of my time to updating you all on my situational. 

Since the last time i actually wrote something meaningful much has happened. And again i will only be able to scratch the surface. 

I have been stationed in Doro, Mabaan County since the 28th of november. Things are well i've been quite busy doing maitenence work here mostly. SIM has a medical clinic here a community health worker school and a basic education learning center (which is about to close.) I've been responsible for the operations and mantenence of the base. As well as i was the only man on the base for about 6 weeks. Examples of work are- bat proofing the CHW school, built a new grass walled outdoor shower, repairing cruddy wheel-barrows, moving safari tents around... and lots of other stuff. 

Life here is quite simple. Meals mostly are pretty basic. Lots of lentils and rice, goat, egg plant, pasta. The like.  I live in a pretty large safari tent. Which is quite pimp i must say. I've got it all set up the way i like it. 

I haven't had tons of interaction with the locals yet. At least as far as outreach. Mostly because the school have been on break the entire time i've been here (although they are starting up again in the next 2 weeks.) So i'm pretty stoked to see the students when they come back. I'd really like to get a cross tribal group of them together and do stuff together. Like worship, pray, talk, drink coffee, watch movies, share cultures. You know. The good stuff. :)

I did get to go to the christmas celebrations that were in the area. On christmas day several of us went into the closest town about 3 kilometers away for a multi church gathering of sudanese style worship and preaching.  And then on the 27th of dec Doro village had their own christmas feast. The mabaan people are quite differant than alot of other tribes in sudan in one way. They aren't cattle herders. Instead they raise goats and pigs. And pigs are really what they're known for. So our christmas feast consisted of pig FAT (apparently they don't have much meat), sorgum, and slimmy ocra. Yum, Yum. :) Other than that. Christmas was pretty quite. 

After christmas and new years (which i passed out from working at like 9pm... wups.) Not much happened up until the 2nd of January. That's when i went out to Nairobi for a short break. But that i will talk about in my next blog. Right now i'm tired from travelling and lack of sleep. I just got back to Doro today. 



Sunday, January 18, 2009

To the contrary thought of everyone i have even less interent access in nairobi. THe internet cafes are unsafe. And i don't have a computer of my own. So until the 1st of feb don't expect to hear from me. Peace.


i'm doing fine. Taking a break. Sleeping lots.. eating lots. and hangin with friends.