Thursday, January 3, 2013


One of the things I've had the privilege of doing in ministry is traveling and meeting like minded youth leaders around the world.

I loved learning and growing with them as we interacted around the truths of scripture and the principles of youth ministry.

On a trip to Malaysia, I learned so much in such a short period of time it was mind boggling.

You see when I taught in the modular program at one of the partner schools, I always had to add the dimension of "well, this is how we in the US have discovered ways to do youth ministry, so lets discuss how these tools will work or won't work in your culture."

I loved the dialogue that ensued, as it was rich, real and full of passion.

In every country I visited I witnessed a similar theme among the youth leaders...they love their young people and are tired of the world, culture, and traditions trapping and enslaving them into missing the truths of Jesus.

On that trip to Malaysia I also heard a reverberating theme of the need for Freedom resounding time and time again. Those leaders were praying about the lack of freedom that existed in their settings.

Countries like Myanmar, Brunai, Sri Lanka, China, India and Nepal were represented in the class, and the cultures and traditions that those youth leaders had to learn to navigate through in order to reach the young people of their culture was just astounding.

Every day I spent with those leaders my heart broke more and more with the lack of freedom they have, but at the same time I was equally fired up and encouraged with the faith and hope they have that Jesus can and will shine through...I'm telling you it was contagious!

The whole time I was there I kept thinking about how fortunate we are in the US with the freedoms we have, and how incredibly privileged we are to be able to stand, sit and kneel whenever we want to in worship of our God.

I did alot of exploring and asking questions, not just about the different religions that are represented in their culture, but actually standing in the very symbols that the people worship in their culture.

One type of temple in particular really nailed me with the fact that everything that it was about, was based on man's belief.

It was the Buddhist temple, and the pictures you see in this post are actually taken from three different temples in a very close proximity to each other. The Chinese Buddhist Temple, The Burmese Buddhist Temple and the Thai Buddhist Temple.

As I was walking and talking with the students I couldn't help but think of a passage in Jeremiah, where the prophet warns the children of Israel against following idols, and the following passage sums up what everything within me wanted to shout to the scores of people who were wandering and worshiping and paying homage to idols and all that those idols stand for.

Jeremiah 10:4-7
4 They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. 5 Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good." 6 No one is like you, O LORD; you are great, and your name is mighty in power. 7 Who should not revere you, O King of the nations? This is your due. Among all the wise men of the nations and in all their kingdoms, there is no one like you.

With everything inside of me, I wanted to proclaim that truth. There is none like the Lord, He is the one worthy of praise and worship and honor and sacrifice and lifelong dedication, not a created thing that has no power.

As I looked around and watched my students, I could tell they were feeling it as well, and I could tell that they had faces and names of individual young people and family members on their minds as we interacted with what we were experiencing together.

Then when we were on top of the mountain at the Chinese Buddhist temple known as Ke Lok Si, I learned an important piece of information that helped solidify in my mind and heart what my faith in God is all about.

I asked why there was half a statue on top of a pagoda and another very tall statue surrounded by supports going up off in the distance.

I was told that the goddess of mercy had been swept away by a mudslide and all they could recover from her demise was the top part which was on the building.

The new one surrounded by supports was being built in a more secure fashion.

That was it for me, my mind and heart praised God right then and there as I realized that He is my strong tower, my rock, my immovable force that is as alive and well today as He was thousands of years ago.

He doesn't take a nap or a trip or succumb to mudslides and earth quakes and forces of nature.

He is the force of Nature!

My prayer that day, as well as right now is that we would realize that our God is alive, and well and doing His work in the hearts of His people!

He cannot be moved, and is always ready to be our shelter in time of need.

I'm so thankful that we serve a Risen Savior who is IMMOVABLE!

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