Friday, January 31, 2014

First Shema Café of the Semester

Wednesday night was the 1st PIU Shema Café of the Spring semester. Shema Café is an open mic night where PIU students, staff and friends get together to enjoy one another’s drama, music, poetry or other artistic talents. Even though it started at 9.30 PM (getting pretty close to my regular bedtime) I enjoyed the evening. We have some very talented students and it really is a pleasure to hear them perform. I am only posting pictures here but I will get some videos up pretty soon so you can hear them too.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

PIU Welcomes Home the Guam National Guard

1596980_493668604076525_1496814700_oAs Guam National Guard Members returned from a 10 month deployment this month, PIU reps took part in the Keep Your Guard Up Initiative sharing with Guard members the educational opportunities available at PIU! PIU is so thankful for the service of our Guard members and is glad to have been able to help them transition back into life on Guam. In the picture Samantha Owen introduces PIU and its programs to a large group of guard members.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Tuesday Chapel

SAMSUNG            We have started the semester with several great chapels already and yesterday’s chapel continued that flow. Bill Schuit, the Global Ministries Director for Liebenzell Mission USA and PIU Board member, was our speaker. Bill began by challenging us with stories from his travels about believers around the world in very difficult situations. He talked of missionaries in Asia who have to spend years building relationships with the people before they can openly share the Gospel, believers in Bangladesh and Nigeria who face persecution and others who are so thankful to God even though they have so little. SAMSUNG            He challenged the PIU family to be thankful and take advantage of the opportunity to be in a community like PIU where they can study God’s Word and be trained for ministry. He challenged us to focus on the promise and power of God rather than the barriers we see in front of us. He mentioned the special calling of John the Baptist and reminded us that called people often need to have a “desert experience” before they really get to what God has called them to do. I think it was very encouraging to everyone. Of course we invite the whole community to join us on Tuesdays and Fridays in the main classroom at 11.00 AM for chapel. It is always a blessing.

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The men’s dorm students led the chapel worship with Bible readings …

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…And music

Monday, January 27, 2014

Weekend with the Grandkids

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This weekend Mike and Samantha got to spend a weekend at a hotel to celebrate their anniversary (about 3 weeks after their anniversary). So we were on grand-parenting duty this past weekend. They wore us out but we had a great time. Here are a few pictures of the weekend. Titus hid under the table here so I could not take his picture.

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I took Titus to taekwondo class. On the left he is practicing his kicks. On the right he is sparring with a classmate. That is Titus with the yellow belt.

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After Taekwondo it was ice cream for everybody

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We gave the kids back on Sunday evening. I got soaked, kicked and rudely awakened in the middle of the night but it was a great weekend! We wish we had all six grand-kids near us.

Friday “Marriage” Chapel

SAMSUNG            The subject of last Friday’s chapel was marriage. Our speaker was PIU Bible teacher and Wycliffe translator Ken Dixon. There were basically two main points to the message. The first one was that marriage is ultimately about God, not just about us. We tend to look at marriage as a way to get our own needs and desires met. Instead we need to look at marriage as an opportunity to SAMSUNG            accomplish the mission God has given us to be the image of God in relationships. Of course, like pretty much everything else in our relationship with God, when we focus on Him our own needs, along with the needs of those around us get met. The second point was that, instead of “following our heart” as we often hear, we need to “lead (our heart.” Ken and Scott Refilong (right) performed a skit that illustrated the importance of doing this. Our hearts (although I think perhaps the biblical meaning for “heart” is a little different than the way we mean it today – but the illustration still works) often lead us in the wrong way but a heart directed by the Word and Spirit of God will produce the kind of marriages that honor God and bring joy to people.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

“Bible Reading” Chapel

SAMSUNG            Tuesday Mike and Samantha Owen led us in a “Bible Reading” chapel. Of course Bible reading is something we enthusiastically promote at PIU, but we find that the tendency is to read the Bible in small “devotional” tidbits instead of reading full stories in their full context. Because of this we often miss the meaning and find it boring. The Bible is the story of God’s dealing with human beings and needs to be read in its grand scope – SAMSUNG            whole books, whole psalms, whole stories. To promote this in chapel, and to show how easy and meaningful this can be, Mike and Samantha read two whole books of the Bible dramatically during chapel time – Zephaniah and Habakkuk. (Hmm have you ever just sat down and read straight through either of these books? Most of our students had not!) After each reading we sat in groups and discussed what we had learned. It was amazing how much each person got out of this exercise. With audio books and so many other Bible resources that we have today there is really no excuse not to read the Bible this way. So my challenge to you is to read the Bible in whole chunks and stop breaking it up into bite sized morsels. Start with a small book and read it through and move on to the bigger ones. I think you will be surprised at how much God will speak to you.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Chapel Week 1–Some Observations About King David

Chapel last Friday was the first with a speaker. As is our custom, the speaker for the first chapel of the semester is me. The returning students know what they are always going to get in that chapel – a sermon about the PIU core values Excellence, Accessibility and Transformation. I share with SAMSUNG            them the three verses that underlie these core values, which I think are the backbone verses of the mission that God calls us all to as human beings. Excellence comes from Genesis 1.26-28 that tells us that we are made in the image of God with a mission to represent God to all creation in everything we do. Accessibility comes from Genesis 12.1-2 in which Abram is commanded to Go out and be a blessing. He was to take the blessings he received through his relationship with God and connect others to God and His blessings. Finally the Transformation value comes from Matthew 28.19-20 which instructs to make disciples wherever we go. In other words, as Christ transforms us through the power of the Spirit we become his agents of transformation as we connect to the people God brings into our regular daily lives.

Since I have been doing a lot of thinking about the life of King David from the biblical books of Samuel, I thought I would take us through how David implemented those core values in his life. It is easy to see how David reflected God’s order, beauty, justice and many other attributes to those around him. He was a clever and prolific warrior who protected God’s people and established justice. He was the “sweet singer” of Israel who created some of the most beautiful poetry in the ancient world. He established and left a peaceful prosperous empire for his posterity. He became the standard for all future kings of Israel. He was a “man after God’s own heart.”

The thing that always bothered me about David is that you don’t have to look to far under the surface to see that he was also a deeply flawed person who caused a lot of damage to his family and nation. While he was clever and a great warrior, he did not always use this for good. David was often an overly violent man (a man of blood) who killed far beyond what defense or the judgment of God allowed. He was a man who often seemed to have a policy of “see girl, take girl,” and even killed and lied in one case to do it. David, not Solomon, is the one who began the policy of Judean kings building an extensive harem. In addition David was a terrible father whose family policies sowed the seeds for the division, disintegration and exile of the nation even as he was building it up.

So what was it that made David a man of excellence? David was a man “who worked with God.” He was deeply flawed but he was honest about himself and allowed God to speak into his life (often through the people around him which was unusual for an Ancient Near Eastern king!) David shows this with his quick and complete repentance after he is confronted by Nathan in the Bathsheba incident. David truly understood that God was the king and he was the minister. David was not an insecure king like Saul because he understood that everything he had came from God and that no one could take it away except God. Despite all his flaws the general direction of his life was always toward God and accomplishing His kingdom. David, especially as he got older, seemed happy to be whatever God called him to be.

Because of that attitude David made God accessible not only to the people of Israel but also to all the nations in the region. God used David to provide a central place of worship that would last for almost 500 years. Because David was willing to allow God to transform him, we have psalms that minister the heart of that transformation to us and continue to transform lives today. Of course the biggest blessing David connects us all to is Jesus Christ.

This gives me a lot of hope. If God can change the world through such a deeply flawed man as King David, he can change me and do great things through me. He doesn’t even have to wait until He completes the work in me. He works through me as He works on my many flaws and, just as He still uses David’s flaws to minister to us 3000 years removed from him, uses me to work His transforming power on others. As we trust him He brings out His excellence in us, we gain access to His blessings and then are able to connect them to others as He transforms us and those around us.

So let’s be people after God’s heart and His kingdom.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

First PIU (Prayer) Chapel of the Semester

SAMSUNGLast Tuesday was theSAMSUNG            first chapel of the new semester for PIU. Mike Owen is again our chapel leader this year, and he led our faculty, staff and students as we focused on praise music, worship and prayer for the new semester. The worship band (left) did a great job but the real focus of the day was the prayer time and it was a real encouragement to me.

SAMSUNG            We had a good time in congregational prayer but a large part of the meeting was a time to break up into groups and to pray for one another. I know that many of you pray for us and I would invite you to join us in praying for the following prayer requests for our Spring 2014 semester.

  1. We have pretty close to the same number of students we had last semester, 85. Our ongoing prayer request for all of our students is that they will encounter and develop in relationship with Christ through the exposure to scripture, relationship with faculty and staff and the many opportunities they have at PIU to connect to and serve Jesus.
  2. Joyce got good news at her follow-up appointment for her pneumonia - lungs clear. She needs to keep a close eye on things but she is back to full activity. She did get a shingles shot this week. We are very thankful that she is doing well,  but are always needful of prayer for her continued health.
  3. We are getting ready to attend a meeting in February with education and church leaders in Chuuk. We are very thankful for our renewed relationship with the church in Chuuk and with Faithwalk Christian College, but there are still a lot of details to work out . Please pray that we will have a clear picture of how to provide for the students at FCC and that we will be able to work with other schools in the region to train the public and private school teachers in Chuuk.
  4. We had another opportunity this week to talk to returning National Guard members about PIU. They had just returned from Iraq/Afghanistan the day before and are looking for education options. We have been praying for a way to serve the local communities on Guam andSAMSUNG            perhaps this could be the way God does it. Several young men signed that they were interested in getting more information.
  5. We are excited about our first on-campus student from Papua, Indonesia (Irian Jaya). Harnolx is enrolled in our Master of Arts in Religion program. After a couple weeks of class I have already been blessed as he related principles we discuss in Bible class to his situation in the Papuan church. Please pray for him for cultural adjustment, financial needs and growth in Christ.
  6. Our Dean of Student Life, Rob Watt (pictured right)  and his wife, Leyla, are expecting a baby. This is already a miracle, but there are several medical issues with this pregnancy. They left Guam yesterday to go to Houston TX for special care for Leyla and the baby. As they are asking, “Pray for life!” Please pray that this baby and mom will be ok. Also this will leave some big holes in our staff that we will have to stretch to fill.

We do appreciate your concern and prayers for us and for PIU. May God Bless!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Happy Birthday to Joyce

SAMSUNG            SAMSUNGToday was Joyce’s birthday. We just got back from her birthday dinner at Tony Roma’s in Tumon. One of her favorite meals is Tony Roma’s baby-back ribs and she ate a half rack tonight. It was nice to have an evening out after her day trying to get tires fixed on her car. (See Below). So Happy Birthday to my lovely wonderful wife. May she have many more, but with a little less stress than today. Smile Joyce says thank you mom for the blouse.

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The Semester Has Begun!

SAMSUNGJoyce and I returned to Guam early on the morning of January 11th and jumped right into the first day of class on the 13th. In fact, we missed registration and orientation which took place the week before. In addition we also welcomed visiting SAMSUNG            teacher Jim Sawyer who teaches church history and systematic theology for PIES, our PIU Seminary. Well, really we didn’t welcome him since when we arrived back on Guam he was already asleep a few hours in our house. We have been pretty busy getting caught up and jumping right into our responsibilities here. But, we also realize how blessed we are to have a job in ministry and that we get to work with college kids who want to know God better. Can’t beat that!

This semester I am teaching two classes: SAMSUNG            Old Testament Survey for the PIES Seminary and Old Testament History at the undergrad level. I am partially combining the courses with the classes meeting together for 7 overview sessions and then separately for a discussion class with the undergrad students on Wednesday afternoon and continuing for the rest of the semester on MondSAMSUNG            ay nights with the seminarians. We are conducting the seminary class in the conference hall at the Palm Ridge Hotel so that we can better connect the seminary to the community. We are inviting the public to visit the class and check it out to see if it is something that would benefit them. After two class sessions we have been blessed to have several visitors register to take the class as an audit or for-credit student. It is a little different for us to have this big group in a seminary class. But we still do get a lot of discussion. Come and check us out on Mondays 6.30 PM at the Palm Ridge.

SAMSUNGJoyce is back at work with her “WeWork” crews. Her crew takes care of the SAMSUNG            “special projects” around the campus. I think they were cleaning out some storage areas last Saturday. WeWork is an in-campus program that provides the students with some grant money and trains them to be ready for the workplace.

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Of course there is always a break time to open up and drink a fresh coconut, or play around a bit..

Friday, January 17, 2014

Last Post About Our Vacation

Okay, it is the end of the first week of the new semester at PIU so I need to get my mind back to work and move on from vacation right? So this is the last post about our family time in San Diego. It was a much needed time away to relax and enjoy family and State-side friends. It is always hard to say goodbye. To me, one of the hardest things about being a missionary is that, whether we are at work in ministry or enjoying a stateside vacation,  we are always missing someone who is far away across the sea. Coming soon: Some posts about the 1st week of the semester.

One last “swing” before we left

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A little time to play with the kids

A hug from (for?) grandma

And a little more play time

Lots of good memories