Thursday, November 13, 2008

From the Hands of a Potter...

This past summer, while I was teaching summer English camps, we would tell a story to the kids that went like this.

"I was a lump of clay. Every day I lay by the side of the road while many people passed by and I longed to be of more worth...I wanted to be big and important! I wanted people to look at me and say, "Oooohh!! Ahhhhh!! Beautiful!" But I was just a lump of clay. One day a man came by and to my excitement he was looking at clay! He began to pick up different lumps of clay, examining them closely, and turning them over and over in his hand. As I watched him, I cried out, "Pick me!! Oh, please pick me!" I hoped he would take me back and possibly do something great with me! I wanted people to look at me and say, "Ooooohh!! Ahhhhhh!! Beautiful!!" But he did not. He picked another lump of clay and left. Day after day the man came back to find clay, and day after day as he passed by I cried, "PLEASE pick me!!" Then one day, as his eyes passed over the lumps of clay lying around me, he suddenly stopped. His eyes rested on me. His hand reached out and then picked me up. It was big and strong and it turned me over slowly. In my heart I cried, "Pick me!! Oh PLEASE pick me!" I thought, "Maybe now is my chance to become something great!! Maybe I will someday be in a very important place, and people will look at me and say, "Ooooohh!! Ahhhhhh!! Beautiful!!" Then the man took me and placed me gently in his bucket and carried me home. I was so excited! I thought, "NOW is the time! Finally he will make me into something great!!" But the man simply took me out of the bucket and placed me on a shelf. My hopes were dashed to the ground! Is this all I was made for? Is this what he brought me back for? All I wanted was to be something big and great. I wanted people to look at me and say, "Oooooohh!! Ahhhhh!! Beautiful!" But how would that ever happen if all I did was sit on a shelf?

I sat there for a very long time. As I sat there I saw other lumps of clay be taken into the man's hands and fashioned into beautiful vases and pots. I dreamed of the day when I would also become something big and important...maybe even a vase that would sit in the King's house! Oh!!! When I thought of that I felt tingly and excited all over! To be something that the King Himself would consider worthy to sit in His house! Then SURELY when people looked at me they would say, "Ooooohh!! Ahhhhh!! Beautiful!!" Still I sat on the shelf. Until one day, at long last, the man came over to me, took me into his hands, and began to push and shove me. It hurt!! I didn't like it at all! I cried out! But still he continued to mold me, twist me, turn me, and press me. I thought to myself that I didn't think becoming something beautiful would be so painful. But I remembered my dream of becoming a beautiful vase and sitting one day in the King's house...and I put up with the pain as best I could. Surely after all this suffering I would be made into something worthy of anyone's notice! I thrilled with excitement at the thought of how it would feel for people to look at me and say, "Ooooohh!! Ahhhhh!! Beautiful!"

When finally the man stopped pushing and shoving me, I looked down at myself to see how beautiful a vase I had become! I was stricken with shock disappointment to find that I was not beautiful at all! Instead I was a rather simple, rather plain, rather ugly pot. "Oh no!" I cried! "How could this be?! I was supposed to be something amazing, unique, and beautiful! I was supposed to be something that the King would admire and place in His house!" Now all my hopes were gone. How would anyone ever look at me and say, "Ooooohh! Ahhhhh!! Beautiful?!" I was placed on a shelf next to many other rather simple, rather plain, rather ugly pots. Every day people passed in and out. They would walk around, choose a pot they wanted, and then leave. But they never chose me. And every day I thought how drab and boring my life was. I had wanted to be something great! And now here I was, a plain, simple, ugly old pot who no one ever looked at and no one wanted.

Then one day a man came into the shop. He was big, and strong, and he smelled like hard work and sweat. He began to look around at the simple, plain, ugly pots. Inside I cried out, "Please, DON'T pick me!" He was NOT the King! He smelled bad! If this man took me home with him, I would never become something great. I would never sit in the King's house. People would never look at me and say, "Ooooohh! Ahhhhhh!! Beautiful!!" But the man picked me up and to my horror I heard him say the words, "I want this one. Yes, this one will do just fine!" He carried me to a camp where there were many men who smelled just like him and placed me in his tent and went to sleep. I heard some of the men say that they were preparing for a battle! A battle?! Oh no! That meant fighting and danger! This was nothing like my dream! Was it never to come true?! Then suddenly the man picked me up and there was a great shout, and then I was thrown down to the ground and I broke into many pieces. I was trampled upon over and over as men ran back and forth yelling and shouting and fighting. When all was over and things finally quieted down there I lay on the ground...broken into pieces, shattered just as my dreams were shattered. Now I would certainly never sit in the King's house. I would certainly never be anything big or great. People would never ever look at me and say, "Ooooohh!! Ahhhhh!! Beautiful!"

Days passed. Months passed. Years passed. Still I lay on the ground. No one looked at me. No one wanted me. I was just a broken pot. Then after 500 years or more, I heard a noise. It was people, and they were coming my way. They seemed to be looking for something. "There should be something around here," I heard one of them say. Then one of them gave a cry and knelt down. He called his friend over and they began talking excitedly. I wondered what could be exciting them so much. Then one of them reached down and carefully, gently, Oh, so gently picked me up. Me! The broken pot! They were talking about me! They were excited about me! "This is it!" they said, joyfully to each other! "This is his pot!" "His pot?" Whose pot? And why were they so excited about finding an old broken pot? They carried me back to a huge place with many, many old things...special things...things that people came from miles away to see. They placed me in a display with a sign that simply said, "Gideon's pot." And to my surprise as people came by to see me they stopped and stared. They gasped in amazement! They said, "Ooooohh!! Ahhhhh!! Beautiful!"

I was so confused at first! Why, I wasn't beautiful! I was nothing but an old, broken pot. Then I heard them say it again..."This is Gideon's pot!" And suddenly it clicked. The truth dawned on me. I realized that I was treasured not for what I was, but for who I belonged to. It didn't really matter if I was big or great. I didn't matter if I ever sat in the King's house, or did great things, or received great fame. The important thing was not what I was, but whose I was. The man named Gideon, who took me back to his tent that day was a great military leader who led a small group of men in a battle against an army many times their size and defeated the enemy. That day on the battlefield he held me high and used me to give the signal to his men to begin their surprise attack that resulted in victory. Because I belonged to him, and he had done great things with me, I was famous. Not because I was big or great or beautiful. But because I was his. When I understood this, my heart swelled with pride and suddenly I didn't care if people said, "Ooooohh!! Ahhhhhh!! Beautiful!" or not. I just wanted to sit there forever and rejoice in the glory and delight of being his."

This is a simple story... and it is a children's story... but I have been thinking about it and pondering it ever since camp. But in this story there are two things that stick out to me.

This first thing that sticks out to me is when the clay is being turned into a pot. Like the story says, it was very painful for the clay to be turned into a pot. It hurt alot... it was uncomfortable... and it didn't feel good. But, it was for a purpose. This clay was being formed and made into something that the potter had in mind. The clay had one idea... and wanted it SO bad. But the potter knew what would be better for the clay. Last night, I was reading my Bible. Right now I am working through the book of Jeremiah. In the 18th chapter it talks about a potter. The Lord wanted to show Jeremiah something so this is what He told him to do.

"'Arise, go down to the potter's house, and there will I cause thee to hear my words.' Then I went down to the potter's house, and behold he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel the he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make it. The the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 'Oh house of Israel, cannot I do with you as the potter?' saith the Lord. 'Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in mine hand, O house of Israel.'"
Jeremiah 18:2-6

I don't think that this was any accident that I came across this passage of Scripture. I think that the Lord is in a constant state of moulding is and making us into the vessels that He wants us to be. But like in the story, it is going to be painful... and there will be times when we will not want to go through the pain that we have to go through. But the Potter knows what is right for the clay. And the Potter will never lead you wrong.

The second thing that stood out to me in the story of the pot, is that the pot had an owner. The owner (much like the potter) had a purpose for the pot. And (much like the potter) it was going to require some pain. At first, the pot did not see the "big picture." The pot just wanted everyone to look at it, admire it, and see how beautiful it was. But the pot was not a beautiful pot. The pot was designed for a different purpose. The owner of the pot had a purpose for the pot that would save many people... so he used the pot for that purpose.
So often I feel like the pot... wanting to be used and stared at... and for people to see how beautiful I am. But the Lord has a different idea in mind. The Lord has a purpose for me... and if I just submit myslef to Him.... then He can form me... make me.... and mould me to be what He wants me to be.
But, all of the pain... all of the hard times.... and all of the tears... are all because of one thing. Because I am loved, and I am His!

"As the clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in mine..."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Work in Progress

I was thinking the other day while I was on the train, "Why do I love Taiwan?" I was thinking about all of the things that are so easy to not like about this place... but yet I still love it. I love the people, I love the opportunities, I love the kids... and yes, I love the country. I love the way that the Lord shows me how to love the people here. I love the way that He shows me that its not about me... and that its ALL about Him. I love how He shows me different things about myself... some good... and other quite to the contrary.
At the end of last semester, I was counting down the days until I would return home. But when I got home, there was a piece of my heart that was missing. That piece was left in Taiwan. Don't get me wrong, every second I was home I loved. I loved that I got to see my family and friends. I liked not having to wake up early every morning. I liked that there was food that I was familiar with. I liked that I could read signs and understand what they were talking about. I liked how I could understand what people were saying when they would talk to me. But one of the first things I remember thinking when I got home was, "how long until I go home?"
You know how the old saying goes, "home is where the heart is," well... my heart is in two places... so where is my home? I know that there will always be a home for me where my parents are... because they just love me like that. But, for now, the Lord has my heart in Taiwan. Why? Well, to tell you the truth, I really have no clue. But I know that this is where the Lord has me. He has me here to love... and to learn to be loved.
Before I went home for the summer, I was working doing some summer English camps. We were going through a particularly hard time, and I was reading my Bible one morning. And I had been working through the book of Isaiah. And I came to this passage and it stuck with me. I had been praying that the Lord would give me a vision for the coming year. One of my friends called them "marching orders." :-) But I came across this passage that I believe that the Lord was using as my "marching orders." It says,

"Thus saith God the Lord, He that created the heavens and stretched them out; He that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it, He that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein. I the Lord have called thee in righteousness and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light to the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house."
Isaiah 42:5-7

Me being in Taiwan is an amazing opportunity. I am SO grateful for it. And even though I am here as an English teacher, I can still show the love of our awesome God by the way I live my life. And the way that I love. One thing that I felt like the Lord was asking me after showing me this verse was, "Are you willing to hold my hand?" When I think of holding hands, I think of relationships and especially couples. There is not doubt in ones mind that they are in love. There is not doubt that they have an awesome relationship. But God was asking me if I was willing to make it known to the world that I was holding His hand. That I loved Him beyond a shadow of a doubt. He says that He will never leave us or forsake us... that being the same for me, I should never leave Him or forsake Him.
Guys, the Lord is at work in Taiwan. He is raising up many people that love Him and want to make Him known. I am SO encouraged that I get to work at a school where the principle is a 4th generation Christian. She loves the Lord and love kids... the same that I wish could be said about me.
So I guess, in the end, I love Taiwan... because God loves Taiwan... and He has put a love in my heart for this amazing country. And because of this, my heart is a work in progress. I pray the Lord will always be working on it... and helping me to love more... and not just people... but most of all... Him.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

These Three Words...

Its been too long. The days of teaching in Taiwan are growing shorter and shorter. We have less than 6 weeks of teaching left. The remaining weeks are already beginning to fill with many things. This week has been a week of many deadlines. But, the Lord has been with us to help us finish everything. I have began to write a blog twice now... and as you can see... I have not finished. I hope to have a chance to finish them soon. :-)
I have been pondering what I should write about for a couple days. But, I think that the Lord has finally showed me what to share.
I was writing in my journal the other day. I was kind of down and discouraged. And, as I do so much in my journal, I asked myself a semi-rhetorical question. I don't think that I ever answered it while I was writing in my journal (I do it quite often). But my question was, "Am I really making a difference in Taiwan?" Meaning, am I Austin making a difference by teaching English in Taiwan? Will what I do... or not do for that matter... make a difference in the lives of the people of Taiwan. I know that so many people would say, "Of course! You left familiarity and the comforts of home to go and teach English in another country." But, personally I don't see that I am making a difference by just coming to another country. People go to other counties everyday... how am I any different?
But, I guess that the "difference" that I talk about would really depend on what my definition of "difference" is. But... I really don't know what my definition of "difference" is. I guess that kind of a problem huh? :-) I would like to see whole towns go to the Lord, repent of their sins, and believe that He has died on the cross and rose again to save them of their sins. I would like to see fathers turn their hearts to their wives and children. I would like to see parents love their children... and love them enough to let their children live with them (I would say that a good 1/4 of my students don't live with both parents. A large percentage of them don't even live with 1 of their parents). I guess... the difference that I would like to see is love. And not just an easy "I Love You" love. A true unfailing love. A love for God. A love for family. A love for others.
Recently, I feel like this is an area that the Lord has been working on in my life. To have a true love for others. And not just an easy "I love you" love... but a true love. Not a romantic love... more of a brotherly love. The Lord has shown me that I get annoyed far to easily with people. But, the reason that I am usually getting annoyed is not because of what others have done... but usually in some way my pride has been hurt. But, when I get annoyed I am not showing love. One of the verses that has been running through my head recently is from 1 John 4. It says,

"Beloved, let us love one another: for love is God;
and everyone that loveth is born of God, and
knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God;
for God is love."

1 John 4:7-8

I think that it is just so powerful how this shows how we should be loving. It doesn't say that it's going to be easy to love someone... it just says to love them. God does not just want us to love someone because they are your friend, or because they are cool, or because they love you. He just says to love them. The Lord wants me to love my authority figures that make rules, the Lord wants me to love the teacher that makes things hard and makes me have to stay up a couple of extra hours to get thing ready for the next day, the Lord wants me to love the people who are hard to love. I think that there is a difference between loving someone, and condoning what they are doing. I think that we can love someone, without condoning their sin. I am FAR away from loving all people. There are still people that I have a hard time loving. But, with the grace and help from my Heavenly Father, I will learn to love those people too.
Ok, now you have to be thinking to yourself, "W
here is he going with this?" and "How does this tie into the whole beginning question?" Well, it does. This week as I have been pondering this question... a couple things came up in conversations. But the main thing that I have held on to was when I was coming home from a night program that I do with Lauren, our driver was talking about some of the kids that attend the program. But he said, "What these kids really need is a mother and father who live with them, and take care of them, and love them." I cannot give each child here in Taiwan who does not have parents a parent, but I can do everything in my power to love these kids with all of the love that the Lord has given me. I know that the Lord does not make mistakes when he gives children to parents. But the Lord also did not bring me here to Taiwan to not love these kids. I have heard some heart wrenching stories about the everyday lives of many kids. Lives that most people could not even imagine. But, I am here to love these kids, to love them fully, to love them unconditionally, to love them with all of the love that the Lord gives me. I hope that through this, the kids will see the love of my Heavenly Father shining forth through me.
So, I think all-in-all the difference the Lord has shown me that I am making here in Taiwan, is that I can love, with only a love that He can give.

This is who I am here to Love...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Prayer for Guidance...

Well... I started writing a blog post last week... and as you can see it has yet to be posted. I am very sorry that I have not been keeping up on my blog very well. I just wanted to ask everyone to keep me in your prayers as far as guidance for next year. I feel that the Lord wants me to come back, I just don't know where He wants me here. There are about 5 or 6 different places that I can potentially go. I just want Him to lead me where He wants me. Anyway, I am off to bed. I have an early morning tomorrow. I will try and get a real post up soon. Love and miss you all!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Life is often referred to as a roller coaster. I think I finally understand why people use this metaphor. For some, it is the only way to explain the happenings that go on in ones life. And for others, they see that life has its ups and downs. Its loops and twists and twirls. Personally, I enjoy riding roller coasters. They give you a thrill. That little... well usually big, pump of adrenalin that makes you scream with excitement and throw your hands up in the air as you plummet to the bottom of a huge drop.
Lately, I have see this "roller coaster" metaphor in real life. There has been plenty of laughter... and also plenty of tears... but the tears have not all been out of sadness. Quite to the contrary in fact. Most of them have been tears of joy.
After all of the happenings of Lauren and her accident, life was pretty busy. Making preperations for our Yuli English camp... and then watching them smoothly play out before our eyes in what seemed like symphony-like precision. But there was one thing, we were not the conductor. The conductor of the camp was our Lord, Savior and Friend... Jesus Christ. It could not have run as well as it did unless He was dwelling among the children and TA's (teacher's assistants) and guiding our each and every word. Relationships were built with the kids that most of us had not built with our regular school kids in a semester. The Lord opened up each one of these kids heart with a willingness to learn English. Every day we were able to share a verse with the kids pertaining to the lesson. We taught them a song which we sung before every meal and played it very quietly while we ate our meals. By the end of the week you could hear the kids singing the words. This is a song that we had learned in Chinese class many months ago. Its a song that is in both English and Chinese. Its says,

"Thank You Lord for this great morning!
Thank You Lord for this new day!
Thank You Lord for you are simply awesome!
Thank You Lord for you are great!"

It was very encouraging to hear the kids singing this as the week progressed. The Lord was really at work among the camp. One of the key points in the weeks was on Thursday night when we had our Goodbye party with the kids. First, we played some games and just spent some time with the kids. But then, we had our friend Michelle come and share about Jon E. who was here in Yuli last year and ended up dieing here. But, she was able to share about his love for God, children, teaching, and Taiwan. And then we had asked Lauren to share what the Lord had been doing in her life. It never crossed my mind until she mentioned it in her testimony that it had been a week since her accident... the Lord showed me through that that He is the one that is all powerful and He is the one who heals. Alas, we had to say goodbye... but for me, that was not the end of camps. The next day I was on a train headed to Taoyuan. I had volunteered to do another English camp there. This camp did not take as much preparation. The Lord put me with a really good team and working with another really great teacher. I thank that Lord so much for Wes. I met him when I took my TESOL course before I came to Taiwan. He is the person that is basically in charge of us all. But the last 2 days of camp I got sick. And Wes let me rest and took over the full brunt of the class. But even still, I was able to build relationships with my kids. This camp was over after a short week. It was then off to Hong Kong for a way to short trip. We have to leave the country every 6 months because our visa's cannot be renewed unless we leave. In Hong Kong I was able to see some of my friends that I had met over the summer at TESOL. It was very good to see all of them. After our 3 day trip to Hong Kong, it was time to head back to good 'ole Taiwan...

I began to write this blog post many weeks ago... and have today come back to finish it. The Lord has ceased to amaze me with His endless power, might, and Love for His people. As much as the Lord is at work in the hearts of the people here in Taiwan... I think that He is even more so at work in my heart and mind. Before coming to Taiwan, I thought that I would be the one ministering to other... not being ministered to by my Heavenly Father. There have been time since I have been here where things have been going along smooth... I was following alongside with the one who loves me more than anything... but then there was also the times where I started to stray off onto my own path. I must admit to you, that though I am here serving the Lord, I have strayed away from the pasture. The Lord has really shown this to me the last couple weeks. But the Lord is a good shepherd, He takes care of His sheep. I am continually having to remind myself of my purpose of being here. It is not so that Austin can go and do what I want to do. It is so that Austin and shine forth the love of our Almighty God. There are 2 things that we, as man, were created to do. Glorify God, and enjoy Him forever. That's it. Not glorify Austin and the things that my flesh want to do. But to simply Glorify God. It is so hard to just glory in the Lord. We can say until we are blue in the face that we glory in the Lord... but do we really? Do we enjoy Him? Do we like to go to Him and just talk... about whatever. Like what annoys you, the day, the slow driver in front of you, or whatever is on your mind. God should be like our best friend... but we often treat Him like that family member that you will maybe get a Christmas card from and see them occasionally here and there. God wants more than that from us... He wants to be our best friend... He wants to be our longing... He wants to be our love. Is the Lord all of these things to me? Absolutely not! But, I will, with the grace of God, work on this until my last breath of this world.
Just as life is full of ups and downs, highs and lows, and twists and turns... so is our Christan walk. But out of anything, this should be the one thing that stays constant. I feel that the Lord is calling me to come back to Taiwan for another year. But much like last year, I am going to leave where the Lord would have me to go in His hands. He will send me where He wants me to be. And, in the end. I want to be able to grow where the Lord sends me... and not have to have total control over my future... but leave it in the hands of the Lord.

"Trust in the Lord with all your hear,
and lean not on your own understandings.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will direct your path."

You might think that the title of the blog is really random. But its not. The Lord gave me a verse a couple weeks ago that just makes me marvel at how much love that He has... especially for me.

"Nay, in all theses things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ our Lord."
Romans 8:37-39

The Lord is working in Taiwan... but not just in the lives of the Taiwanese... but in mine. Pray for me as I continue to follow the Lord's leading in my life...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Safe in the Arms of my Loving Savior

As I sit in front of what I feel has been my lifeline these last couple of days... well other than my Bible... and my Savior... I feel at a loss of things to say. My happy-go-lucky, every thing's good world has been rocked. But the rocking has not been negative... I have seen my God work and make me see Him in some of the most unlikely situations.
It all started when I was busily bumbling around the house cramming a ton of camp preparations into a couple of days... when I heard my cell phone ring... in my room. So I ran like a madman and got there in just enough time... It was Lauren... but this was not the same Lauren that I talk to everyday... this was a very... calm Lauren (not that Lauren is not calm). She told me not to freak out... but she had been in an accident and was bleeding really bad. My heart sank to the farthest depths of the house... I didn't know what to do... but crying would not help anything. And asked her if she was going to the hospital and she said that she was... I told her that we would meet her there... the next couple of minutes were a blur... I told Jonathan who was in our room... and then ran upstairs to tell the girls. They say that I was really calm and that I left out the blood part... All I remember is I was trying to keep the tears from flooding down my face. I'm a guy... I have to be strong for the girls. While I was telling the girls Jonathan had called Hannah who, by the time we were ready, was waiting for us outside with her car. The car ride was very quiet... the only thing you could hear was whispers of prayers being sent up to our loving Savior. When I walked through the doors of the ER I could hear Lauren crying from the pain. Sarah ran to her side. I was too afraid that I would pass out from the blood. I walked aimlessly around the waiting room frantically sending texts all over Taiwan and back to the states asking for prayer for Lauren. The damage was unknown, but the stories from the translators was scary. Friends gathered together with more friends, family gathered together and lifted up prayers and petitions to our loving Savior. I can't begin to even tell you how much time we spent at the hospital... at some point we were told that there was something in her eye and that they needed to transport her to Hualien City. We all wanted to be there by her side... holding her hand and telling her that it was going to be alright. Only two people could ride in the ambulance. So Sarah and our friend Michelle (to do the translating) went along. When they left the hospital, it was off to our house to pray, and cry out for our friend Lauren. It was an amazing time of prayer...
I find it so amazing that our Savior has no language barriers... He is never closed... We will never get a busy signal... He is always there... In the midst of all of what seems on the outside to be turmoil, we had a English camp starting in a matter of days. We had planned to share many things with the kids related to God and the Bible. We saw these things that had been happening as attacks from our enemy... Satan. He did not want the love of our loving Savior shared with these kids. Even after Lauren began to heal, he threw us another fiery dart. Sarah found out that her little brother had had a seizure and was in the hospital. Sarah was very distrait. She has spent every waking hour for the past many days with Lauren, she had gone on little sleep, and had the same clothes on for a couple of days. We again, went running to out loving Savior... He is the only one that will provide true strength, healing, and comfort. Jonathan and I decided that we would let Sarah spend time taking care of Lauren and relaxing... we now needed to fill the spot of two teachers at our camp. The Lord provided us with another teacher, who was willing to come down from the English Village and help us attack this camp.
But Satan still had more darts to throw our way. After eating lunch today, Naomi (the other teacher) began to feel very sick. She thinks that it might just be something in what she ate. So again, we went running back to the one who loves us so... our loving Savior.
He lets all of these things happen for a reason... He wants everything that we do to be done for His glory. He is letting all of this happen for a reason... He will be glorified in the end. And the outcome will not be because of anything that we have done... it will all be because of what He has done... I am reminded through all of this of a couple of things...
The first thing is a hymn that I remember singing in Church. It says,

"Leaning, leaning, leaning safe and secure from all alarms
leaning, leaning, leaning on the Everlastings arms."

When we lean on our loving Savior, we will be safe and secure. The Lord is the one that was keeping Lauren safe in that car... the Lord is the one that is healing her body... the Lord is the one that is letting all of this happen.
Another thing that I am reminded of is a Bible verse. It's in Psalms and it says,

"Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God. They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright."
Psalms 20:7-8

We do not have to worry about trusting in anything else... except trusting in our loving Savior.
The last thing that I am reminded of, is that nothing is to difficult for my God. Even when things are not going our way... when things are looking grim and bleak... I can find strength, comfort, safety, and peace in the arms of my Loving Savior...

Friday, January 4, 2008


Xin Nian Kuai Le!
(sheen kneeon qui luh)

Happy New Year!

Wow! The God we serve is so amazing! As I look back over the last year of my life I am amazed at where the Lord has taken me... where, at times, I have taken myself... my struggles, my feats, my failures, and my victories. He has been right by me the whole time... holding my hand... even in the times when I didn't want it to be held.
I was thinking back earlier this week on one of my marathon train rides to Taipei... where was I a year ago? And, where have I gone in a year? Last year started with a new job in San Antonio. I was so excited that I had the chance to be a "businessman." Its most kids dream. I had not been to college and I thought that this is what I would spend the next 10+ years doing... boy was I wrong. So I moved to San Antonio, TX. I moved into an apartment. I was on my own... I had me to worry about... and that was it. How stupid my thoughts were. When I had originally gone to SA I had the blessing of my parents... but my Mom was no to happy. As I spent more time on my own... my relationship with my parents began to grow farther and farther apart. Anyways, over time at where I was working... the Lord began to show me that this is not where or what what He had for me. I did not like this... I wanted to be here. I mean I had been to Mexico once to do mission work there... so I was serving His people. I was not ready to submit to the Lord. I remember going through a particularly hard week... and I was on the phone with Andrew and I told him that I wanted to go on a missions trip to somewhere far away. I think that the Lord heard my cry. After life started to get back to normal... I began to spend a little more time with Him... and I started to see that I should probably move on. So I told this to my parents. I told them that I think that it was about time to give my two-weeks notice. I just wanted to finish up a project that I was working on. I was talking to my Mom late one night on the phone, and she was telling me about a class that she had been reading about. It was a class that would teach you how to teach English to people who spoke other languages. So we both researched it... the class was starting in less than a week... in Oklahoma City. She told me to pray about it... and to make sure that this is what the Lord would have me to do. So, I prayed about it... and called the next day... there was no answer... so I went back to the Lord... then I called again... this time I got an answer. The person I talked to said that she would get back to me. Well she called back and there was openings in the class. But it started the next week... so I had a thousand things to do before I left... and I was still working for a company. So I gave everything to the Lord... and then went out to conquer the task that was at hand. Well... everything worked out and the next week I was on a plane headed to Oklahoma City. I spent spent the next two weeks here... not only learning to teach English... but meeting, spending time with, and getting to know about 25 students from Taiwan and Hong Kong. I I felt that the Lord was calling me to go to Taiwan and teach English. I did not know why because I did not ever know where Taiwan was... much less anything about it. But the Lord worked all of my visa paperwork and everything else out. But alas, my time with the VOICE students and staff was over. It was a very sad time. But we had to say goodbye (I was going to see them again in a couple of days because they were at my next stop on my "prep for Taiwan" trip around the US) and I had to go back to SA and pack up my apartment. One of the requirements for going to Taiwan was that I attend a course called "Journey to the Heart." It was a 10 day course that was supposed to help you to clean up your heart... and spend some quality time with the Lord. I did not want to go one bit. I was scared about what I would find out about myself... and aboutt was one of the most memorable and exciting experiences that I have ever had a chance to get to be a part of. Well, while all of this was going on what others would think about me. So toward to end of VOICE I asked for prayer for mt time at JTTH. One thing that Karen Chen who is one of the people who is in charge of the VOICE program is to be myself, and to be real because they had gotten to know the real Austin. So, that is what I set out to do. Well, it turned out that I made a really good friend at JTTH and also had a chance to spend some time just listening to God. Before this point the Lord had never really given direction from His word to go to Taiwan. I was sort of doubting, and thinking that I had done this all and that is was not from the Lord. Well... one, this was a bad thing to think because things had happened that only the Lord could orchestrate, and two, He decided that He would show me. One of the passages that He gave me may seem kind of cliche, but it was from Him. It was from Matthew 28:18-20. It says,

"And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen."

I felt that this was the Lord telling me to go... and that he would guide my steps... and that He was in everything that had taken place up to this point. Well, the last day of JTTH happened to be on the same day of the VOICE graduation. So, I had permission to attend. It was such an awesome time. The leaders of the different groups that the students were in said something about each of the students. Well, during the VOICE program two of the students called upon the Lord, and repented of their s
ins, and believed in Him. It was such and awesome time when they relived these moments at the graduation for Cynthia and Henry. I don't think that anyone there made it through the graduation without crying. Well, the final alas had come, and I had to say "goodbye." The next stop on my trip was Myrtle Beach, SC. Here I was meeting up with Aaron... and our friends that we have had for... pretty much ever... Yannick, Kingsley, and their Dad. This was a good time to just have a time to relax on the beach and just have some fun. Well... after that, we headed back home... and this time it was home home. Well... for me, it was home for three days and then... off to Taiwan. Well... I finally arrived in Taiwan... and by the time that we got to the hotel it was in the early morning hours. Well... the enemy did not take to long before he began his attacks. One of the guys that came over with us had a seizure. I was VERY scared... while he was laying on the bed Wes was standing over him praying for him while his brother and I attacked his bags looking for his medicine. Then... praise the Lord we found it... and then we all began to pray. The Lord heard the cries of his children, and it did not last to long... but it seemed like an eternity. The rest of the time in Taoyuen was covered in prayer... our hotel was covered in prayer... and everything that we did was covered in prayer. I still did not know where I was going to be going in Taiwan. I knew that it would be one of two places. I would either stay in Taoyuen... or go to Yuli, Hualien. Well, after about a week of praying that the Lord would send me where He would have me, I was on a train headed to Yuli. While I was on the train I decided to read my Bible. The last day of JTTH our leader had given us a passage of scripture that he wanted to give to us. It was Isaiah 55. Well, the Lord spoke to me through a portion of it. It says,

"Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people. Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the LORD thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee. Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."

Isaiah 55:4-7

I just felt like this was my marching orders from the Lord. Well... I would love to say that since I have been in Yuli that it has been all happiness and rainbows... and that I have learned to go to the Lord with whatever problems that I am having... but it has not. I love each person that the Lord has brought onto this team... but there are times when I have a very bad attitude toward them or about them. The Lord has showed me that this is not how I need to be. He has showed me that this will only cause division. Recently, I was "pinned" by the Mormons which are very active here in Yuli. I felt very threatened by them... and after talking to them... I began to doubt again. It seems like that is a defense mechanism that I have... but for a couple of days I was having some major battles. But one morning I was reading in my quiet time... and all through it the battles were being waged inside of me. But then the Lord spoke to me through His word. I was reading in John. It was after Jesus had resurrected and he had appeared to the disciples. And so the disciples went and told Thomas. But he said that he did not believe and that he would not believe unless he could see and feel for himself. And then in John 20:26-29 it says,

"And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."

The Lord really spoke to me through this passage. I felt that the Lord was telling me not to doubt Him, but to trust Him... and rely on Him. Well... the past couple of weeks have been very... interesting to say the least. They have been very stressful and to spend the Holidays away from my family only added to the stress. But about a week ago, I had been going through a particularly hard time... and decided to go up into a mountain that is down the road... It was just me... my Bible... my cell phone (just in case of an emergency)... and God. I had a chance to just be still and silent before the Lord. I had not been able to do this since I was in MI at JTTH. It was an awesome time. Well... to wrap things up, for New Years, I went to Taipei with Lauren and Sarah, and then on the first there was a VOICE reunion. It was such a fun time! VOICE seems like it just helps me to re-focus on the Lord. I think to easily my focus starts to shift to Austin and what he wants... and off of the Lord and what He wants.
Well... I thank you all for praying for me... they are much appreciated. I want to encourage you to never loose site of the Lord... He is an awesome God! Nothing is to difficult for the God that I serve. He is always there for me... no matter what I am going through. I am glad that I have a friend that is always there for me no matter what I am going through. I pray that I will keep Him by my side during this year... that He would be who I run to in difficult times... in times of trials... in times when I don't think that I can go on... He is there for me. Keep us in your prayers...

2007 Travel Breakdown:
2 Continents
3 Counrties
15 States
13 Airports
30 Airplanes
100,000's miles