Category Archives: Leadership

MAKING HISTORY!

Dear praying friends,

This is a momentous year of firsts and a year of making history in Thailand!

On the family front, Derek and Camille were married on July 1 here in Thailand. It was a beautiful wedding filled with the presence of God and friends from around the world. We love Camille’s family, and are thrilled that God has answered Derek’s and our prayers for the perfect wife for him. We also had the joy of our family being reunited for the first time in 6 years! Seth, Sei and adorable, little Acacia, and Isaac & Leigha were able to visit as well. So our multi-cultural Porter family is now from America, Cambodia, New Zealand and Australia.IMG_4832

And Isaac graduated from CalPoly Pomona with his Bachelors in Hospitality Management. We are so blessed by his diligence!Isaac grad

In the meantime, preparation for the YWAM Together global gathering is speeding forward. We now have 3,400 YWAM missionaries coming from 99 different countries! God has spoken very clearly that the theme of this event is from Revelation 4:1 – “Come up here, and I will show you things to come.” So we are expecting great things. The Lord led me to write a song around this theme, which you can check out here:  http://bit.ly/ComeUpHere

Come up here screenshotThe most unique element of this event will be the Shine Pattaya outreach day, in which all 3,000+ attendees, together with local churches, will flood the city of Pattaya to share the love of Christ. Activities will include:

  • prison ministry in 2 prisons
  • sports, music and arts outreach to 21 schools
  • visiting the elderly, orphans, and the poor
  • prayer walking in the city, and prayer boats along the coastline
  • distributing 100,000 gospels of Luke
  • giving Bibles to Chinese tourists, and digital Bibles to young tourists
  • ministry in the red light district
  • public concerts in multiple locations

Shine Pattaya posterGod has given us favor with the authorities, and even the Pattaya city mayor will attend. We are believing God for an Acts 2 experience, where everyone heard the gospel in their own language. But of course, the Enemy is not happy with this plan, as Pattaya is known world-wide for its darkness and sin. So the spiritual warfare is very real, and we do need much prayer on our behalf.

  • Pray for protection on all involved, especially those from “high security” nations
  • Pray for more volunteers and translators from local churches
  • Pray for a powerful outpouring of God’s Spirit in Pattaya
  • Pray for wisdom and strength for all of our organizing team
  • Pray for thousands to encounter the love of the Father

And please pray for Cindy & me as we work alongside others to organize and host this history-making event. (1,000 emails so far and counting . . .)

fullsizeoutput_1236Lastly, we will be making a trip to the States from October to mid-Nov. This will be primarily to care for our parents, which we have not been able to do this year. Please pray for God’s provision to do this well, even in the midst of a very full year.

We are so grateful for each one of you who pray and give and support us to be an extension of YOUR ministry to the world. It is a privilege to live out this calling! May you be richly blessed and rewarded!

You are loved and appreciated,

Phil & Cindy

— Donate online —

Our ministry is supported entirely by donations. If you would like to share in the fruit by investing financially, simply click the link at: https://giving.ywammontana.org/support/portersinthailand which will enable supporters to set up one-time or recurring donations via various methods. We are so grateful for all who continue to invest in our ministry!

Joy & Sadness

Dear friends,

It has been a very sad week for the nation of Thailand, as we lost the longest-reigning, and possibly the most beloved monarch, in the world. Although, I am not at liberty to post details, one only has to Google “Thailand” to get the full story. It is a crucial time for the nation, over the coming days and months, and we would appreciate your prayers for Thailand. mourning-collage

Interestingly, this event happened as believers nationwide were already in the midst of 40 days of prayer for Thailand, which began on October 1. We join with Christians throughout Thailand in continuing to intercede through these 40 days. As a way to support this annual initiative, we mobilized YWAM volunteers to translate the 40-Day Prayer Manual into English so that non-Thai-speaking Christians could also join in praying along the same daily themes.

central-collageWe were blessed to join the final two regional YWAM staff gatherings recently – Northeast (known as “Isaan”) and Central Thailand – where we spoke for one session, led worship, prayed over unreached areas, met new people, and encouraged others. What a joy to see what God is doing around the country! isaan-collage

In September, Cindy had a whirlwind trip to the States taking her parents to see family in California, meeting up with long-time friends, helping with a ministry fundraiser and a chance to see Isaac.cindy-usa-collage

In the meantime, I participated in a workshop in Singapore where we wrestled with the question, “What needs to be done for all of … (a province, district, etc.)… to have access to the gospel and be blessed with transformational disciple-making ministries and movements?” Now that’s a big question! It was also an opportunity to experience the “city in a garden” – Singapore itself. If our Bible story begins in a garden and ends in a city, there are some things we can learn from the Singaporeans! singapore-collage

While in Chiang Mai this month, I was able to meet with the Thai leaders of Compassion, Kairos Course, and Perspectives on World Missions. Both the “Perspectives” course and “Kairos” are now being taught in Thai language, and we had a great discussion about how to partner together more. These courses provide excellent teaching and theory, while YWAM’s Discipleship Training School (DTS) provides a vehicle for putting that theory into practice. I believe this will lead to more Thai missionaries being called and sent to other nations.

We praise God for his provision in making up some of the loss of financial support we’ve experienced. We are still praying for an additional $500./month support, but it has been very encouraging to receive some committed responses from some of you.

Thank you for your continued prayers and partnership! It is a privilege to serve together with you in seeing God’s Kingdom come in Thailand.

Much love,

Phil & Cindy

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT WE DO

Dear friends,

Sometimes, it’s hard to describe to others what we do. We don’t pastor a church. We’re not preaching to hundreds or thousands every week. But every element of our ministry is strategically pursued to impact this nation and make a difference. A fellow missionary once described it beautifully to me. In a soccer game, it’s the “assist” that leads to a goal. In American football, often the “touchdown pass” leads to a touchdown. The striker or the receiver may receive the glory for making that score, but without that supporting kick or throw, the winning point would not have happened. The Apostle Paul said one man plants, another waters, but only God makes things grow.

So it is with our roles here in Thailand. We will never be Thai, so we will always have limitations. But it seems God has given us the ability to strategically, sometimes prophetically, see the bigger picture and who or what is needed. We then support others by connecting people, dreams or resources in the right place so that Kingdom fruit will multiply. Here are a few ways that that has happened lately . . . MSKA trip to YWAM Salem, Oregon, two years ago led to their leadership team coming this year to survey various ministries in order to partner long-term with some. I used it as an opportunity to visit one of our ministry locations I hadn’t yet been to. I was so impressed with our local Thai leaders there who are bringing many Thai university students to Christ. In addition, they are running a tea shop business to generate ministry funds, and developing some land for a ministry center.DeBoorsWe hosted our friends, Craig and Emily DeBoor, who were visiting Thailand for the first time, praying about how God may want to use them cross-culturally in the future. It was a delight to introduce them to some of our Thai “heroes” who are reaching the “least of these” with the love of Jesus.IMG_9190It was inspiring to spend a couple of days with the Thai Emerging Leaders group we’ve formed. Our goal is to equip them to lead YWAM Thailand at a national level. But we learn so much from them as well. Especially as the majority of them are the first-ever Christians in their Buddhist families.RetreatCindy helped organize our annual YWAM Thailand National Office staff retreat, where we gave our office staff a much-needed break filled with lots of fun, affirmation, prayer and good food. Being spiritual parents in this way always brings us joy.IMG_9315We hosted a mini-seminar for 70+ Thais and missionaries from various churches with Dr. Larry Persons who has just written an excellent book, called “The Way Thais Lead”, on the subject of “face” and how it affects leadership within Thai culture. We all realized how much we still have to learn.IMG_9312special highlight has been seeing Derek thrive in ministry. I recently had the privilege of preaching in the bilingual house church he is helping to lead. It was my first time to preach in Thai with Derek as my translator.NokBillThere have been some battle losses lately as well. This week, we lost a dear friend in the States, Bill Hobbs, to multiple myeloma cancer. He had impacted our lives since before we were married. The next day, very unexpectedly, Pastor Nok, here in Bangkok, died of a heart attack. He was not only a friend, but possibly the most influential pastor in Thailand. He carried such a burden and passion for seeing his nation transformed by the gospel. And he had opened many doors for us to have national influence in the Body of Christ as well. 

Both the losses and the victories remind us that we are in a battle for this nation. But we know Who ultimately wins! Thank you for your continued prayers and support. We are so grateful. It is a privilege to serve together with you.

Much love,

Phil & Cindy

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Our ministry is supported entirely by donations. 

If you would like to share in the fruit by investing financially, please send checks made out to “YWAM” to:

YWAM, 501 Blacktail Road, Lakeside, MT 59922

(For IRS purposes, do not write our names or project # on the check.

Instead, enclose a separate note designating the funds for the Porters – Project #2887.)

Or donate via PayPal at phil.porter@ywamthailand.org

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Catching the Wave – Porters Update – Aug. 2015

Dear friends,

There are moments in history when it seems heaven and earth bump into each other. That was the atmosphere during much of our YWAM Thailand National Conference last week. With the theme of “Catch the Wave”, it literally felt like riding a wave to greater and greater heights. From the moments in worship to the speakers’ messages, from the artistic creativity to the strategic networking, each session brought us closer to God’s heart for Thailand and the nations. IMG_7929The first evening focused on worship through the arts, so we dressed up for a gala dinner, were surrounded by beautiful paintings crafted by YWAM Thailand staff, and were inspired by classical musical performances giving glory to God. For a taste of this glory, click HERE IMG_7954Several messages came from some of our emerging Thai leaders, who challenged us to hold tightly to our calling and take the gospel to “where we are not”. YWAM Myanmar’s leader, Saw Peter, challenged us to partner with others in order to reach a broader audience. He was instrumental in getting the SuperBook Biblical cartoon on national television in Myanmar.

mm impactDid you know that YWAM Thailand staff impact the lives of more than 55,000 Thais on a regular basis through showing the love of Jesus practically?! This includes caring for orphans and widows, sponsoring children’s education, and ministering to the “least of these”. One session was spent in what we call “network circles”. By networking around common themes, we are able to make a bigger impact and measure the effect of that impact. IMG_7950Cindy and 3 friends – who’s total time in Thailand adds up to nearly 100 years! – performed a classical Thai worship dance to demonstrate their great love for our Thai brothers and sisters. It so moved the audience, they were cheering with tears streaming down their faces.

On the final day, Mr. Punya, a driver whom we’ve hired frequently over the years for guests and events, finally accepted Christ as his Savior. IMG_5433ON A PERSONAL NOTE – After more than 3 years of recovery from severe burnout, Cindy was able to join with these amazing ladies to co-ordinate and provide spiritual and logistical oversight for our time during the conference. It was good to see her back in action again being “Mom” to our YWAM Thailand mission.

FAMILY NEWS – In the midst of our conference, we learned that Cindy’s father, Joe, had suffered a stroke. Thankfully, he is recovering and we are hopeful he will not be severely affected. Our son, Isaac, was visiting his grandparents that week and so was able to help out in a time of need.

SUPPORT – We are still needing additional funding for ministry travels this year. We would greatly appreciate your prayers and consideration in this matter. YT 2015 THANK YOU! to all of you who continue to stand with us in this ministry. Your partnership is invaluable!

For His Kingdom,

Phil & Cindy

no longer slavesP.S. We had the privilege of leading worship one session with 4 other musicians – none of whom had played together or with us before. The one song I felt strongly to use was a new one called “No Longer Slaves”, from Bethel Worship. One of our young Thai staff led the first verse in Thai, and then I followed in English. Many were impacted by the powerful message of this song. Click on this link to hear the result  – https://youtu.be/-VhzU4S8GDo.

IN MEMORY OF CAROLYN BROWN11701055_10205945694434056_5474803105363064867_n – Only weeks before our national staff conference, we learned that our friend, Carolyn, had passed away from a sudden complication related to cancer treatment. Carolyn was a dear friend and faithful supporter of our ministry for many years. Her heart was to come alongside missionaries through her business to further the Kingdom of God, and in doing so has also supported many of our Thai staff along the way. In recent years, she started a non-profit ministry, (interestingly) called The WAVE Project (Women Achieving Their Vision Through Excellence). We’ve been blessed to have her on our support team. She will be greatly missed.

Year of Travel

Dear friends, 

What an amazing year this is turning out to be! New and unexpected opportunities have become the norm. 

NETWORKING 

As we seek to lead YWAM Thailand’s 500+ staff and 80 ministries into their spiritual inheritance, God is opening up numerous opportunities for partnerships with other organizations and churches – including the Thai Christian Business Association, Food for the Hungry, Compassion International, English teachers, anti-trafficking ministries and more.  This has  also led to new visa options for some of our long-term staff – a real breakthrough and answer to prayer. 

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NTV SOURCEVIEW BIBLE

Meanwhile, an unexpected opportunity came to take the only common language Thai Bible (NTV) that’s translated from the original Hebrew/Greek and print it into the SourceView format. The SourceView is a color-coded format that brings the story of the Bible alive, especially when read aloud in a small group, by allowing you to easily hear who is speaking. Black font = the narrator; red font = God; green font = the main character; blue font = other characters. At this moment, we are printing 8,000 Gospels+Acts in this SourceView NTV version. 

THAILAND CONGRESS ON EVANGELISM 

As if that’s not enough, 6,500 of these SourceView Thai Bibles will be given away for FREE next month to church leaders from every denomination and province of the country. The Thailand Congress on Evangelism only happens every 4 years. And we will be providing each attendee with a SourceView Thai Bible to inspire their Bible teaching and study. Ironically, the Bibles are being printed in China. Please pray that they arrive in time with no delays from shipping or customs. 

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FINANCE WORKSHOP 

We recently hosted a finances and fundraising workshop for many of our Thai staff. Since YWAM staff and ministries raise their own support, this is a big challenge for our Thai staff especially. But many were encouraged and inspired as they learned more of God’s perspective on financial planning and fundraising. One highlight was a contest based on the parable of the talents where various teams won actual cash of $30 to $300 which they must now try to double by Aug. 3 when we meet at our national staff conference. 

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EMERGING LEADERS 

As we continue to disciple Thais in leadership, we have also formed an Emerging Leaders Training group, which we will be developing to eventually lead YWAM Thailand at the national level. It was a joy to share with them what I see in the future of YWAM Thailand. We will be meeting with them periodically to equip them further.

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STAFF RETREAT 

Last week, we took our National Office staff on our annual retreat. It was a joy to laugh, play and pray together outside the office, and especially to get to know them more personally as we shared life stories. 

CINDY’S KNEE 

As you know, Cindy had knee surgery in November due to a torn meniscus and ACL. After some good recovery progress, there’s been a setback causing both physical pain and emotional wear. Please pray for complete healing. 

travel 2015

YEAR OF TRAVEL

This year will involve more travel than ever before for both ministry leadership and personal reasons. Thanks to the amazing generosity of some dear friends, we have been given a European cruise to celebrate our 30th anniversary in June! We are overwhelmed with thankfulness for this gift. 

In addition, given the significance of our national leadership role at present, we feel it necessary to attend YWAM’s Global Gathering in Townsville, Australia this September. We haven’t attended this type of event in many years, but this year it is necessary. 

But also this year, we feel strongly that we need to spend Christmas with our parents. For the first time, both Cindy’s and my parents are in the same town (Cortez, CO). And we have not spent Christmas with them in 13 years! Given their ages, and their requests for us to be with them, we feel we must take this opportunity while we have it. 

However, this means we need to raise a total of $5,500. in travel expenses which we don’t presently have. Would you prayerfully consider contributing to this need? We are trusting God to provide this soon so as not to carry debt on the air tickets. He has always been faithful to provide through His people.

ONE MORE PRAYER REQUEST

We’ve just received word that Cindy’s sister, Shelia, who’s been in prison for 5 years, will be granted a parole hearing on July 10. Please pray that she is released and able to move to Colorado to help care for her parents. This has been a heavy weight on Cindy and her family for a long time. 

Finally, we want to thank you for continuing to partner with us in ministry. It is truly a privilege to serve God together with you for this nation. After 23 years on this journey, we only wish you could come and see the impact for yourselves!

For His Kingdom,

Phil & Cindy 

P.S. We send out brief weekly prayer requests to those who want to stay more in touch and intercede about key issues. If you would like to receive these, just let me know.

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Silent Retreat – Day 3

Consolation –

– praying the labyrinth

– beginning to research “joy” and “rejoice” in the Bible, sensing God wants to teach me how to live in His joy, “make my joy complete”

Desolation –
– recognizing I must have been more tired that I even realized. I took two naps  yesterday afternoon.

Went to bed at 9 pm last night, after 2 naps that afternoon. Woke up at 7 am and went for a run up the road and into Chiang Mai University. After my run, I began to feel a sense of refreshment, different than the previous 2 days. All the sleeping has helped. I realize my tiredness is from some very full weeks of service and extroversion, but not from being stressed out.

I feel a sense of affirmation from the Father that this is good timing, preventative maintenance. It’s following Jesus’ example of going away to spend time with the Father just as the crowds were pressing in and demands were high. I’m so glad I was proactive in scheduling this in, rather than waiting until I was desperate.

Telling this to David, and of my new “joy/rejoice” searches in the Bible, he reminded me of a passage in Isaiah 45:18 that talks about God creating the world “to be lived in” or “to be inhabited”. Enjoying God’s creation is part of experiencing the joy of the Lord.
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This tree reminds me of Father, Son & Holy Spirit – 3 in 1

I spent a good part of the morning looking up “joy” and “rejoice” verses in both the old and new testaments. It struck me again how the Old Testament speaks often of trees clapping their hands and singing for joy, oceans resounding, fields being jubilant, the heavens rejoicing and the earth being glad. Oh, the things we don’t know about what is really going on around us! It also struck me how Israel’s tithes, offerings and holy days revolved around celebrating with lots of food, wine, singing and all-out rejoicing. The feast of tabernacles was celebrated for 7 days straight! Since when have we celebrated anything for 7 days?

And the New Testament speaks often of rejoicing in both good times and difficult circumstances, rejoicing in the hope we have in Christ, being full of joy, joy as a fruit of the Spirit, etc..

As joy is also a byproduct of being thankful and counting our blessings, I walked the labyrinth again, thanking God for everything I could think of, and praying that the Father would “make my joy complete”, baptize me with joy, and give me a deeper understanding of the joy of the Lord.

It’s the end of my third day. I am packed and ready to leave in the morning. Once again, I am so grateful for the opportunity to get away and be still before the Lord. And once again, He has met me in unexpected ways, strengthening my spirit and renewing my mind. Thank you, Father!
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Beautiful and incredible hand-carved wood trim

Silent Retreat – Day 2

I didn’t set my alarm, but woke a little after 7 AM, after going to bed at 9:30 PM. Because I realized I needed a 2-prong plug adaptor to recharge my laptop and phone, and because the retreat director mentioned yesterday that exercise is part of a 3-legged stool approach that will enhance my time here (the other 2 legs being rest and prayer), I decided to go for a run and find an adaptor. I ran up the street and into Chiang Mai University’s campus while listening to Bruxy Cavey’s podcast. I ended up running about 5K which was good, considering I haven’t eaten that much.
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Found what I needed at 7-11 and headed back. While cooling off, I did the Examen, reflecting on the moments of the day before that I’m most and least grateful for. Although it’s obviously clear that my body is really needing rest, I realized I was still fighting off that nagging voice that says I should finish up some emails before settling in here. But I’ve resisted it, as I know it will consume this precious time. But the booklet I stumbled on of some of Pope Francis’ teachings has really captured me. The way he talks about joy being such an integral aspect of the servant of God – “that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:11); and Francis’ statement, “I want to say one word to you and this word is ‘joy’. Wherever consecrated people are, there is always joy!” has really intrigued me. It just happened that my Bible reading plan was on that passage in John. And Cindy had mentioned after returning from the Father Heart school that she wanted our lives to be characterized by joy.
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So I started a process of reading all the verses that mention joy, being joyful, rejoicing, etc., and intend to keep that up over the coming weeks or months. There are more than 350 verses, so it must be an important topic! I did this a couple of years ago with all the “do not be afraid” verses, and it was very impacting.
I prayed through the labyrinth again, this time just thanking God for anything I could think of as I made my way to the center; and then praying for different aspects of YT and my leadership on the way back out.
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Took another nap after lunch . . . Then met with David, my retreat guide, who commented on how tired I must have been, needing all these naps. What does that say about my pace lately? He encouraged me to read the passage in Luke 12 about not worrying, and learning from creation how God looks after and provides our needs. Also, to look at Philippians 4, Paul’s words about rejoicing in the Lord and not being anxious.
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I just spent time again meditating in the chapel, looking on this sculpture they have backed by a beautiful stained glass window. It is unique in that it is a cross, but Jesus is in an ascending position rather than a crucified position. So it reminds us in one image that He was not only crucified, but also resurrected. I wrote this in a note attached to Philippians 3:10-11 in my Bible: “Jesus is both the crucified Christ and the resurrected Christ. We need to know both the power of His death and the power of His resurrection. The fellowship of His sufferings and the supernatural life. Both are equally important.
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Phil. 3:10-11 – I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
2 Cor. 4:7 – But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our moral body.
There are a number of things I have thought maybe I should pray about while I’m here, but I don’t seem to be inspired to do that just yet. It seems like I need rest more than focusing on that.

Silent Retreat – 3days@7Fountains (part 3 of 4)

Friday May 31 –

Finished “Simply Jesus” by NT Wright last night. Very powerful last segment about the role of the church in establishing the kingdom of God. Need to read it again.

Slept again from 9pm to 6:30am, except for a short time around 5 when I woke up, thought I would probably stay awake, so read John 3-4, then dozed off again.

Sticking to my diet of basic salad and bananas. I feel physically weaker as there is no protein at all in that, but it’s all natural and I will sleep more feeling weak.

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(Matthew 11:20-24 MSG) – Next Jesus let fly on the cities where he had worked the hardest but whose people had responded the least, shrugging their shoulders and going their own way. “Doom to you, Chorazin! Doom, Bethsaida! If Tyre and Sidon had seen half of the powerful miracles you have seen, they would have been on their knees in a minute. At Judgment Day they’ll get off easy compared to you. And Capernaum! With all your peacock strutting, you are going to end up in the abyss. If the people of Sodom had had your chances, the city would still be around. At Judgment Day they’ll get off easy compared to you.”

Interesting realization that Jesus knew that same frustration of trying so hard  to get a message across or accomplish a task, and people just didn’t respond. I guess I’ve known this in the context of His broader mission, death and resurrection, but never really thought about it in the context of day-to-day life and ministry, except for regarding the Jewish religious leaders. Here Jesus expresses real disappointment and frustration.

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But then moments later . . .

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG)

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From sacred space website:

Sometimes I wonder what I might say if I were to meet you in person Lord. I think I might say “Thank You Lord” for always being there for me. I know with certainty there were times when you carried me, Lord, when it was through your strength I got through the dark times in my life.

From me:

I think I would say, “Will you show me how to live in the “unforced rhythms of grace”, how to take on your easy yoke, and live in the “rest” of God?”

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Comments from Fr Puspo –

“Many people are suffering who are not the poor and desperate.  Those who are rich or who have material things, but have a cancer in their spirit, pressure from modern society and their jobs, no time for friendships or real relationships, etc. Zaccheus and Levi were that kind of suffering people. Jesus called himself a doctor who came to heal the sick.”

Acts 9:3 – Paul’s persecution of the church – Jesus said “why are you persecuting ME?”.

Matthew 25 – “in as much as you’ve done it to the least of these, you’ve done it unto ME.”

Jesus continues to bear the suffering of the cross in people’s suffering today. How do we respond?

Spent some time in the chapel again gazing on the cross sculpture.

Another hour+ nap before lunch . . .

As I consider the scriptures given to me, – Zaccheus, Levi, the Good Samaritan, the rich man and Lazarus, the sheep and goats, etc. – it occurs to me that we treat most of Jesus’s teachings, especially the parables, the same way the religious leaders and others did then, like nice stories but missing the point, or at least missing the weight and significance of them. Fr Puspo mentioned how these teachings were so simple, and yet so practical and important. But I think that because they’re just simple stories, rather than line by line instructions from Apostle Paul, we tend to ignore them or at least not treat them as the profound, weighty teachings that they are.

Matthew 13:34-35 (NLT) [34] Jesus always used stories and illustrations like these when speaking to the crowds. In fact, he never spoke to them without using such parables. [35] This fulfilled the prophecy that said,

“I will speak to you in parables. I will explain mysteries hidden since the creation of the world.”*

Explaining “mysteries hidden since the creation of the world” sounds pretty important!

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Mark 4:33-34 (NLT) [33] He used many such stories and illustrations to teach the people as much as they were able to understand. [34] In fact, in his public teaching he taught only with parables, but afterward when he was alone with his disciples, he explained the meaning to them.

So there was definitely an important Kingdom point He was trying to make. 

Proverbs 1:5-6 (NLT) [5] Let those who are wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. And let those who understand receive guidance [6] by exploring the depth of meaning in these proverbs, parables, wise sayings, and riddles.

Matthew 13:10-13 (NLT) [10] His disciples came and asked him, “Why do you always tell stories when you talk to the people?” [11] Then he explained to them, “You have been permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others have not. [12] To those who are open to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But to those who are not listening, even what they have will be taken away from them. [13] That is why I tell these stories, because people see what I do, but they don’t really see. They hear what I say, but they don’t really hear, and they don’t understand.

Matthew 13:16-17 (NLT) [16] “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. [17] I assure you, many prophets and godly people have longed to see and hear what you have seen and heard, but they could not.

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Hello!! The important teachings, the depth, the wisdom, the secrets to the Kingdom are IN THESE STORIES! How have we relegated them to children’s Sunday school and songs, and put Paul on a pedestal?! (No offense to Apostle Paul. I think he would agree.) This is God talking to us about the secrets of the Kingdom. But because they’re so simple a child can relate to them, we somehow think they’re not intellectual enough to be God’s most important instructions.

On a side note, this also highlights again the importance of orality evangelism and discipleship – telling stories. It’s the method Jesus used – for a number of reasons.

Time for another nap . . .

I re-read the last section of Simply Jesus. So profound and yet practical. WE, the church, are how Jesus wants to extend and express His Kingdom, reigning with Him now, until the greater fulfillment of it upon His return. We, both personally and corporately, are to be His Body and do the works He did – confronting darkness, extending love and mercy, not relinquishing our role to the state to do it for us. We have authority in Christ, and the responsibility to make a difference in the world.

 

(This blog is not intended to be a theological discussion or answer. Please don’t read it that way. It is just some thoughts I had while spending time in solitude.)

Silent Retreat – 3days@7Fountains (part 1 of 4)

Wed pm – May 29 –

ImageSo glad I’m here. It’s basic, but quiet and peaceful with grass, trees, bamboo, birds, a labyrinth garden. It’s a strange feeling to be in a place where other guests are also staying, but no is expected to say anything to anyone. I have to remind myself there’s no need to try avoid people or feel uncomfortable by being near strangers, because they too are silent and have no desire to meet me or talk with me. 

The dining room has soft instrumental music playing. People come in at will, get their food and eat in silence. There seems to be only about 8-10 people here at the moment, so no need to even share a table. I ate dinner while reading Luke 22 about the last supper. I think I may stick to just fresh vegetables and fruit, eating very lightly. I had a basic salad and a couple small bananas. I’m so tired of hotel buffet food and probably need to shed a couple pounds anyway. And since I will be resting a lot and not exercising, less food is better. I had considered fasting, but decided it’s probably not the best – partly because I’m on antibiotics and partly because I’m so exhausted from the conferences I’m sure I need the nutrition. 

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I notice sounds. Birds chirping, squirrels eating or building something up in the bamboo, the water fountain. I’m more aware of my movements, more slow and deliberate. I feel like this snail, moving at it’s pace after a jolting stop from breakneck speed for the past weeks. 

I took several photos in the garden. I think I’ll post them without commenting, but just to visually communicate the experience.

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Jesus, come and meet me here. I have nothing to say. I just want to be in your presence and listen.