Sunday, October 31, 2010
have been wanting to create a video of all the pastors I work with for
our furlough. So, because I only had 3 Sundays before I go back to the
states, I had to make do. So, the Huckaby's joined me today as we
visited Pastor Martin's church in Kazanga, Pastor Peter and Pastor
Alfred in Garden and Pastor Patson in Ngombe. I'll be heading to four
more next Sunday and then three the following week. It was really a
great time going from church to church. I really sensed that everyone
was encouraged by our being there and it made me really proud of our
pastors and the work they are doing. Driving from one place to another
really provides good perspective on the needed ministry in the
Friday, October 29, 2010
Instead of being sleepless in Seattle due to jetlag, I am now zweating in Zambia. It is good to be back but I am not sure the human body was supposed to go from 50 degrees to 95 degrees overnight.
Not much has changed here in Zambia in the past 2 weeks, but I was surprised to come back and see a tree in our yard in full bloom. This tree was supposedly "dead" as declared by my wife. But, the tree must have overheard her and blossomed in a fury. It is interesting to note that the mangos are also beginning to grow. Why interesting? Well, it's hot season and it hasn't rained in at least six months. Six months! Crazy. And yet, the Jacarandas are in full blossom and now this tree, the fruit trees, with no water... What gives? Well, the roots run deep, they store the water and they become most beautiful in the hottest times.
I can't help but see a little similarity in this passage that I am preaching on tomorrow during our Veritas graduation. (More on this tomorrow as I share pictures of the 50+ pastors and leaders who have been taught by our pastors who we taught!)
Psalm 1:1-3 – 1-Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
The tree yields it fruit when it should be withering because the roots run deep in water-filled places. And, it seems that God is saying that a man is like this too. When we should be withering in the hot scorched waterless times of our lives, if we delight in the word instead of delighting in world, we too, blossom beautiful to provide fruit and beauty to the world around us. Not merely reading or memorizing or studying, but delighting... Delight? Endure the word, or do it out of discipline or do it because we feel guilty or we know we are supposed to... But delight? The world delight means to desire or to take pleasure. It is not enough to just know the word or know about the word, but it must become the desire of our lives if we are to be able to blossom during the difficult and less difficult times in our lives. How do we grow in our delight in the word? Because if I am honest, I find more delight in sports than reading the bible. I love watching movies and hanging with friends and at times, just about anything more than reading the bible. How do I grow in this necessary requirement for bearing fruit in my life?
John Piper provides a beautiful way to prayer delight into our lives:
The psalmists point the way here. They struggled like you and I do with motivation and with seasons of weak desires. What did they pray to keep the fires of delight in God’s Word burning? Three examples from the prayer life of the psalmists:
1. They prayed for the inclination to meditate on the Bible—for the “want to”. If you lack desire, don’t just have a defeated attitude and say, “I can’t enjoy it because I don’t have the desire.” That is the way atheists talk. God is in the business of creating what is not. So the psalmist prays in Psalm 119:36, “Incline my heart to Your testimonies and not to gain.” We admit to God that our hearts incline to the computer or the newspaper or the TV and we plead with him that he reach in and change our inclinations so that we love to read and memorize and meditate on the testimonies of God.
2. Secondly, the psalmists prayed that they would have spiritual eyes to see great and wonderful things in the Word, so that their desires and delights would be sustained by truth, by reality. Psalm 119:18: “Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law.” If we are going to be inclined to the Word and stay with it and delight in it and memorize it and meditate on it, we must see more than dull facts, we must see “wonderful things.” That is not the function of the natural mind alone. That is the work of the Spirit to give you a mind to see great things for what they really are. Delight-giving Bible reading and Bible meditation is a work of God on our hearts and minds. That is why we must pray continually for that divine work.
3. Finally, the psalmists prayed that the effect of their inclining to the Word and their seeing wonderful things in the Word would be a profound heart-satisfaction that would sustain them through droughts and make them fruitful for others. Psalm 90:14, “O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”
We ask God to awaken the delight that Psalm 1 says we should have. Delight in God is a miracle. This is what it means to be a Christian, and being a Christian is not a mere choice to believe a fact. Being a Christian is believing the truth of God because there is a spiritual apprehension of its beauty and glory. When that soul-satisfying glory starts to fade, we must fight off the deadly effects of worldliness and immerse ourselves in the Word where his glory is revealed, and then pray and pray and pray, “O satisfy me in the morning with Your lovingkindness, that I may sing for joy and be glad all my days.”
So may we grow as a generation of delighters in God’s word who blossom fruit in the hottest of times!
Piper, J. (2007). Sermons from John Piper (1990-1999). Minneapolis: Desiring God.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Don't feel too sorry for me as i am watching the first NBA game of
the year. Lebron vs. the Celtics. Good timing! I am hearing pretty
good these days. My hearing aids have been finely tuned and it is
great to finally hear my wife, my children, the keyboard and
everything else going on around me. I am officially welcomed to the
hearing world. Amazing what technology can do these days. It has
also been great to be there while Rhoda was welcomed to America for
the first time. I had some great relaxing time with my family,
especially with Rhoda. It was great to introduce her to my family and
be there while she experienced everything for the first time. I am
also thankful for some time with my parents who I hadn't seen in two
years. I was able to connect with the pastors at Crossroads and
connect with some friends. The bummer part of the week was getting
sick. I couldn't go to church and it limited my time with my family. But God is sovereign and all things work(ed) for good. I am feeling much better, but not perfect yet... Praying for a healthy flight! The Demon Hunter band is on the way to London for their tour and they are sitting right behind me... They are probably blogging about me sitting in front of them:)
The week went by really fast and yet I am thankful for all that God
has done in this week... I head back to Zambia for 3 weeks to finish
my teaching and then come back for our furlough. Thanks for your
prayers and please pray for my family while I am gone... Thanks so much!
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Sweet reunioning happening with my parents, with my brother and his family, with Steph's parents, with Crossroads Bible Church staff as I popped by today for some hugs, and with Dairy Queen and her amazing Reese's Peanut Butter Blizzards.
Some quick comments about my time in England. The one word I keep using: Significant. Great talks, lots of laughter and fun, great food, and rubbing should with some amazing people. I guess another word I could use was: understood. There is something sweet about being with people who understand your missionary life. And it made it all the sweeter that I have known so many of these missionaries most of my life through the Crossroads connection. It was great to get to know them well.
Highlights included some sweet time with Manuel and Pili Corral and Tan and Kaarin Molina. I met Tan and Manuel 20 years ago in Leon, Spain when I was but a young lad of 21. They had just begun the retreat ministry out at Toral and there were about 6 young men of 15-13-12-11 who I had a blast hanging out with during my two months as a camp counselor in the summer of 1992. Well, these young boys are now men, loving the Lord, leading ministries, pastoring and leading the next generation for Christ. Manuel is in his later years of life, working hard to pass the baton to the next generation and Tan is part of that next generation, leading worship and having an impact on the entire country through his worship and through the retreat ministry at Toral. It was great picking Keith Webb's brain the entire week, learning so much about teaching and leading and coaching through his vast experience. David Bordner is a missionary in Slovenia with Josiah Ventures. He married a Slovene worship leader and together they are having an amazing ministry in Slovenia. Great conversations with the Musgraves and the Ziskas, meeting the Russian pastors, seeing Ellen from Mexico again after 20 years and meeting new missionaries from all over that I have never met was so great and all the other names I am forgetting at this early jet lag hour! I loved how I was able to be at Crossroads when they decided to focus on Spain and Russia with a lot of time, effort and money and then 20 years later to see so much fruit being born out of those decisions. Our time with Scott and Julie Blom was so fun. I had seen their names on the missionary board at Crossroads for the last 14 years but had never met them. I wish distance were not a factor because I am sure we would be great friends. They are great people. So much laughter with great, deep, important talks was the norm here. It was a wonderful time. Anyway, thanks for all your prayers.
We were very thankful for the four leader/couples from Crossroads that came over to encourage, get to know the missionaries and lead us. I have never heard of a church who would donate such time and money to love on their missionaries. I hope that many churches will try to do something like this. It was a blessing.
I will be here for a week and then head back to Zambia next week for a little less than a month before coming back for our furlough. We will be around from Nov 21 to January 11 and we look forward to connecting soon!
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Sunday, October 10, 2010
someone, either because you are coming or going or someone else is. We have
made some great friends here in Zambia. The Williamson family are from
Louisville and James teaches pastors like I do. We meet weekly for
fellowship and friendship and he has been a huge blessing in my life. And on
Monday's we have an adult fellowship group that meets to pray and worship.
Their families threw a surprise goodbye party for our family on Saturday. We
had amazing food, great time on the slip and slide and just really felt
loved, prayed for and sent out... Thank you Lord for good friends on both
sides of the ocean...
Saturday, October 09, 2010
Friday, October 08, 2010
I am sitting here on another beautiful morning in Zambia, watching the sun rise in the east, just outside my bedroom window. The sky is clear. It has been months since I have seen rain. The trees are waving in the gentle breeze. I am in shorts. The day is already warm. It has been almost two years since I have been in America.
The months have gone by quickly and life has carried us down the river of life. There have been some gentle parts and some turbulent parts. We have seen some of the most beautiful scenery possible and have also seen some pretty hard things as well. Life doesn’t normally have separated portions allotted to it so you can evaluate therein. We don’t normally live one year here or two years there . Our children do. High School, college, peace core, grad school. But when you get a job, you don’t really have seasons, because it all flows together. But, as a missionary, you are able to reflect on seasons, and it can be helpful, to reflect, and really think through what we did and didn’t do. Our first season was only 9 months. We came home and had a baby. And then we came back for two more years. Stephanie and I were just talking how we are so thankful that we came back. It has been such a different experience, a fuller experience, a harder and not as a hard experience, a deepening experience, a learning experience.
But how do you fully explain two years in two minutes or two hours or two days? That is the challenge that lies before us. How do we explain all that we have done and learned and experienced and become during these two years in the two + months that we are going to be home? I am not sure we can. And if we could, would people care? Perhaps, we can give a glimpse during a sermon, or a short video or a three minute allotment during a church service. But hopefully you will be patient to listen to our hearts, to realize that some things just can’t be explained, and other things that can won’t make any sense. And in us, a new worldview and different values and conflicted convictions have been refined and defined in our hearts.
Our worlds have been shifted, daily, and yet we are still us, the same people you know and love. We long to return to what we know and yet we know that when we are in the know, we won’t feel at home. We will want to forget the hard that we remember and yet we will find that is the hard that we miss the most. We will want to forget the pain that exists and yet we will judge everything by the pain that we know exists. So how can you help us? Ask good questions. Be patient to listen when you don’t understand and persevere when you feel uncomfortable and don’t let the guilt you feel from the things you don’t experience deter you from really engaging. Things are not always what they seem, even to us. We can’t wait to see you all
Thursday, October 07, 2010
visit the director and the children. It was great to be back. We sure love
the family that runs the ministry. And it is amazing how big the kids have
gotten. It is always a good reminder of how far little Rhoda has come when
we go back to her old home. And it is ironic that we visit the old before
we head to her new home, at least a citizenship type of home in America. We
can tell a lot is going on inside little Rho-Rho's head. Please pray for
her as she tries to get a grasp on all that is happening and that she
endures/handles all the changes well.
Monday, October 04, 2010
Hello friends and families,
It is about time for another update. We have been holding off on updating because we were waiting to solidify our schedule. And we feel we have now at least got a very “definite tentative” schedule put together and we are excited to share it with you…
We are leaving Lusaka, Zambia on October 11 for London to attend a missionary conference that Crossroads Bible Church (one of our supporting churches) is putting on for all their missionaries. Stephanie’s parents are flying over to watch the Allen 5 why we rejuvenate!
This will last until October 18…
We will then fly to Seattle together as a family along with Stephanie’s parents.
Originally, Steve was going to fly back to Zambia to finish his term on November 22. However, he broke his hearing aids and they are irreparable. (I broke ‘em real good!) So, he will fly back with an active plane-discovering Jo-Jo, welcome Jennifer Rhoda Allen to the United States of America as she will become a citizen upon arrival. He will introduce Rhoda to his parents, his brother and family and to Dairy Queen blizzards. The plan is to be fitted with hearing aids in a week and be back on a plane on October 26 to Zambia to finish his teaching term on November 22. The Allen ladies will be well cared for by the hug-starved grandparents and family and friends.
Steve will be back in the states on November 21.
The plan is then on the following Sundays:
Nov 28 –Crossroads Bible Church in Bellevue
Dec 5 – Downtown Church in Bellevue
Dec 12 – Northlake Community Church in Bellingham where I will be preaching during the services and speaking to the youth in the evening.
Dec 19 – (CALIFORNIA – Parents 50th anniversary)
Dec 26 – Crossroads Bible Church in Bellevue
Jan 2 – Oikos Church and Northlake – Bellingham. I’ll be preaching at Oikos but family and I will be visiting Northlake beginning of service and possibly Sunday night Alive. Oikos is where our new missionaries are from and the pastor has visited Zambia three times in the past year and a half
Jan 9 – Downtown Church – Bellevue where I will be preaching.
So stay tuned for more information! We look forward to seeing you all more than you know!!!