Tuesday, April 29, 2014

SL2 Conference at PIU

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Conference participants pose with their certificates

Last Saturday PIU and the Guam Department of Education jointly sponsored sl2 confthe first SL Squared conference. The SL in the name stands for the double theme of the conference: Service Learning and Servant Leadership. The SL2 posterconference was especially designed to train Guam public and private school teachers how to integrate service learning into their classrooms and curriculum. It also is a natural for PIU to host a conference focused on servant leadership. The conference content was very helpful to me, but I especially enjoyed hearing and getting to know the speakers from the Guam community who shared their very practical examples of servant leadership. We are looking forward to doing this again. Most of the conference speakers are pictured on the right.

Monday, April 28, 2014

This Week in the Psalms #3 (55-81)

I am continuing to work through the Psalms. This week there were a lot of Psalms, especially those of Asaph, exploring the seeming dissonance between the promises of God (the ideal) and the way we experience things in the present. He doesn’t really provide a definitive answer except to trust God in the present because we know he has been faithful in the past and will keep his promises in the future. I think one reason that the Psalms minister to us so deeply is that they do not minimize the pain we feel in the present while, at the same time, they provide hope for the present and future.

Betrayal is one of the most difficult offenses to handle. Even this one can be turned over to God because he can and will sustain you through it. Psalm 55

The truth of who God is insures the triumph of the just. Psalm 56

Even when the circumstances say, "No way!" God will bless those who trust Him according to his promise. Psalm 57

It seems that there are some people who are born evil and can't even listen to instruction. Even they will be judged justly and God will set things right. Psalm 58

May God judge those who abuse power by using it to hurt others rather than serve. May God show his justice by making their punishment fit the crime and be evident to all. Psalm 59

Sometimes God lets us experience impossible difficulties so that he can save us from them and remind us that he is our only sure protector. Psalm 60

Only God is worthy of worship. The ultimate blessing is to live in His presence. Psalm 61

Only God is worthy to be the basis of our life. If we live for power, money or glory these will all fail us. God is the only center to life that works. Psalm 62

When we begin to realize just how much we need God and how wonderful his blessings are, then we become worshippers. Psalm 63

Evil people use words as weapons against God's people. But God knows their thoughts and will thwart their plans so that justice is done and his people are blessed. Psalm 64

The abundance we enjoy in God's presence, including forgiveness, is all just a side benefit of his Presence with us. Psalm 65

God's work in creation and his work in our lives should bring a response of trust, praise and worship. Psalm 66

God's purpose is that everyone in the world knows him through his people sharing his blessings and the message that he is king. Psalm 67

Our just and good God will win the battle against all his enemies, establish His rule, set things right and bless his loyal people - act based on that in the present. Psalm 68

Suffering (deserved and undeserved) and persecution are inevitable for the person committed to following God and living God's way. Despite that we trust that God will be present with us in our suffering and deliver us; and, even if suffering results in death, make our present lives meaningful and reward us in the eternal kingdom. Psalm 69

Prayer: Hurry Lord! make your kingdom values the norm now - so that the good are protected, the needy satisfied and justice done. Hurry! Psalm 70

Those who trust God can be confident in his ultimate deliverance. Those who oppose God can be sure that they will be disappointed. Psalm 71

The job of a leader is to protect, serve and help his people prosper, especially the most needy people. But, All human leaders will disappoint us until Jesus rules. Psalm 72

The wealth and apparent happiness of those who oppress others and have no regard for God can be a problem for the believer until they take God's perspective and realize that the prosperity of the wicked is very temporary but "brief" afflictions of this life lead to long term good and blessing in God's eternal kingdom. Psalm 73

Even though we recognize the justice of God's discipline of his people, we also recognize that it causes a loss of regard for God in the world. Thus we ask God to remember his promise and renew his people to blessing. Psalm 74

Do not be prideful and live as though you are independent. Everyone will be judged by God and things will be set right. Psalm 75

Trust and worship God because he has a "track record" of defeating those who oppress his people and then saving and blessing them. Psalm 76

In those times when it seems that present circumstances do not match God's promises, or that God is far away, meditate on what he has done in the past in the stories of scripture and in the story of your life. Then you will see that, often, what God is doing in the present is not clearly seen or understood until much later. Psalm 77

Some things we learn from the history of Israel (Psalm 78)
1. The most basic formula for success: Trust God and live according to His covenant. (7)
2. We have a tendency, when God works through us to accomplish something, to take all the credit for ourselves.
3. It is easy to miss the amazing things God is doing all around us if we are not looking with trust.
4. It is easy to turn the results of God blessing us with his presence into idols that become barriers to His presence.
5. Present difficulties can make us forget past blessings. (42)
6. God understands our weaknesses and is compassionate and always willing to forgive, no matter what we have done, when we return and submit to him. (38-39)
7. God is very patient, but he will judge all sin, starting with his people. (59-60)
8. The most basic formula for success is to follow the Son of David (70-72)

God is forgiving and just. The repentant can call to him for restoration and justice. Psalm 79

The essence of blessing is God's presence with us. Living in God's presence is salvation. Psalm 80

God demands full submission and obedience but he promises full joy and satisfaction. Psalm 81

“Senior” Chapel

Senior Chapel (13)AsSAMSUNG            is the custom at the end of every semester, the last chapel features the students who are graduating. (I know it is hard to believe that we are already into finals week for the spring semester.) Our baccalaureate service this year will be at 1 PM this coming Sunday (May 4) at Bayview Church, with graduation to follow on Monday May 5 at the Top O’ the Mar. We hope you can join us. Senior chapel allows each graduate (some are technically sophomores since they are graduating with AA degrees) to share how PIU has impacted their lives and to let us in on their future plans.

Senior Chapel (14)Esme is the Senior Class Student Council representative and is graduating with a BA in Biblical Studies. She shared how she feels that PIU is “home” to her and that she “feels homesick” when she is away. Senior Chapel (15)Esme hopes to continue on in the seminary program as God supplies the means to do that.

Tyler has been working as the maintenance director at PIU while finishing his BA in Biblical Studies and has been a real blessing to the school. He shared that PIU has let him develop his skills on the job and challenged him in the classroom. He is not sure about his future plans but may attend seminary.

SAMSUNG            Jesse (left) is graduating from PIU with a BA in Liberal Studies. He shared that PIU gave him an “amazing” experience in cross-cultural living in the dorms and classroom.SAMSUNG            He plans to get married soon after graduation (to December grad Jonie Jones) and then both of them plan to go on to graduate school.

Jake (right) is graduating from PIU with a BA in Liberal Studies. He thanked the faculty for challenging him in the classroom. I have appreciated his leadership among the guys at PIU. He will return to Chuuk after graduation and plans to be a teacher in the school system there.

 

SAMSUNG            Shelter will graduate with an AA in Liberal Studies. She has enjoyed her two years at PIU very much. She said that when she came to PIU she didn’t know anyone in the ladies’ dorm but has made some deep lifelong friendships there. She especially appreciated the chance to develop her leadership and ministry skills as a resident assistant in the dorms. She plans to complete her BA on the US Mainland, possibly at Biola University.

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Rusty (right) will graduate with a BA in Biblical Studies. He shared that he is one of the few Christians in his family and he appreciated his Christian family at PIU. Rusty has been a leader in student missions work while at PIU and, after spending some time back in his home in Chuuk, he plans to be involved in world missions in some way.

Senior Chapel (16)Matthew will be graduating with an AA in Liberal Studies next week. He joked that his time at PIU “has been a wonderful seven years.” I don’t think he really took that long. He talked about the challenges of adapting to cross-cultural living in the dorm and of working full-time while attending school. He said that “after taking some time off” he plans to attend University of Guam and get a teaching degree.

We will have 12 graduates receiving their degrees next Monday, including our December graduates. We invite the community to come share the celebration with them. We ended the chapel with a time of prayer dedicating each of our graduates to God and to his service in whatever they are called to do.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tuesday “Earth” Chapel

SAMSUNGYesterday was our annual “Earth Day” chapel. Our speaker was our “favorite chemist” and PIU faculty member Larry Bock. Larry’s chapels are always joyfully anticipated because he integrates science with theology in a creative and interesting way, and, he shows really cool pictures. SAMSUNG            This chapel did not disappoint. Larry shared from Psalm 148 and showed how our responsibility to the earth involves creation care and praise to the Creator for how intricate and beautiful He has made it. Larry and Sharon Bock have been volunteering at PIU for three years now and plan to move back to Texas permanently to spend more time with their grandchildren (I understand that!) We will really miss them in the classroom and in the office.

 

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Mike led the students in some hymn singing with his guitar

Monday, April 21, 2014

Owen Family Easter Celebration

We had a good Easter Sunday celebration. It included a Sunday sunrise service with a potluck breakfast, family gathering, Easter egg hunt, family dinner and time for relaxation and conversation. Here are a few pictures of the day. We even got Titus to let us take some pictures with him in them. You can see how excited he is about that!

 

 

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The day started off with Sunrise Service. On the left we line up to take communion. On the right my breakfast. Mmmm, the rice and potatoes were good.

In the afternoon was the family gathering at our house. Joyce and the girls set up the hammock

Serenity relaxed in the hammock, and with her new bubble machine

Mike and Samantha prepared for the egg hunt. I got the kids lined up and ready

Serenity and Courage searched diligently for the eggs

Cousin Jesse helped them

Everyone filled their basket

Then, time to relax and eat the candy

Or break the eggs filled with confetti on people’s heads

Or jump on the trampoline

Or sword fight

This Week in the Psalms (29-54)

I have been working my way through the Psalms in my morning devotional reading. The commentary set I have been using does not have a volume on the Psalms (what!??). So I have been posting my own brief comments on each Psalm daily on my Facebook page. Sometimes the comment is a summary, other times it is just a thought that occurred to me as I read. One thing I noticed as I read, was that the Psalms of the Sons of Korah (42-49) work together. The early ones present the problem of the world being chaotic and that God’s promises seem to not be working. The later ones present the promise of things being set right (especially #45 in the picture of a wedding) and God’s rule, which is real in the present, will be clearly seen in His future kingdom. So here they are….

YHWH has all power. He can handle any situation and bring peace and blessing. Psalm 29

The troubles of this life are temporary and for our benefit. God will deliver us. Praise Him. Psalm 30

In times of trouble better to wait for God (by continuing to act faithfully in the mission he has given you to trust Him and love the people around you) than to extricate yourself from the situation by a foolish selfish act. Psalm 31

Those that receive the gift of full forgiveness from God no longer need to hide and live lives of inner peace and joy. Psalm 32

YHWH, the Creator, understands and takes care of His creation. He will bring about His plan and promise to bless it. Psalm 33

When we fully give our lives to God, He sustains, protects and gives us what we need. He is fully involved in the lives of His godly ones to to comfort and bring them through this difficult world and into His kingdom. Psalm 34

If you want God to fight your battles and rescue you from your enemies you need to fighting His battles and love the things he loves. He delights in the welfare of His servants and judges the wicked. Psalm 35

The wicked do not view themselves or the world correctly and thus damage themselves and others. The righteous understand God and his covenant, place themselves in proper relation to God's world and are blessed.  Psalm 36

Some reasons to do things God's way rather than a selfish lifestyle: 1) The success of the selfish person is short-lived. 2) The person who trusts God experiences real joy and inner (relational) peace 3) The selfish life is self-destructive 4) Trust in God produces character 5) The wicked remove themselves from God's active care. 6) The righteous are protected and assured of a blessed outcome 7) The selfish hurt and damage others 8) A godly lifestyle makes life better for oneself and everyone around you. Psalm 37

Sometimes we suffer for our sin and sometimes because of our stupidity or ignorance. Sometimes we suffer because we live in an evil world or because enemies persecute us for doing right. But we can turn over all of these to God, trust Him and wait for him to bring deliverance. Psalm 38

A person who lives for this life alone is foolish because it is so short and full of pain and loss. We need to have a worldview that enables us to live well before God while taking into account our impending death. Psalm 39

The proper response to God's deliverance and blessing is submission to Him and service from a thankful heart. Psalm 40

We live in a dangerous world filled with enemies who would destroy us. But the way to safety is not self-protection. The godly response is a generous, giving lifestyle that meets the needs of those around us. Then God will protect us and accomplish His will through us. Jesus fulfills this Psalm in his lifestyle, death and resurrection and shows us how we need to approach our enemies. Psalm 41

In those times when it seems like God is not there, remember his past blessings and his commitment to his promises and continue to wait for him and keep hoping. Psalm 42

When present circumstances do not match God's promises the faithful can "remind" God of his covenant obligations and how they will praise him when he responds. Psalm 43

The Reality: It often seems as though God does not come through on his promise, things don't work out like they did for the "heroes of the Bible," and the wrong people get rewarded. The Proper Response: Tell it to God and ask him for help. Psalm 44

The answer to the problem in the above psalms is that God, the king, is coming to set things right. This is pictured as a marriage and will change our situation from being "poor foreigner" to being "queen." Psalm 45

In the midst of this chaotic dangerous world God is the one steady source of hope and help. He will set things right in His kingdom. Those who trust him now will join him then. Psalm 46

We can be sure of God's present and future righteous rule over all the earth. Psalm 47

God rules over the kingdoms of this earth and over the spiritual kingdoms. He is worthy of trust now and even beyond death. Psalm 48

Wise people understand that wealth is overrated. No one can bribe death not to take them. But, those who make God the center of their life beat death. Those who live for wealth die just like everybody else. Psalm 49

God's rule extends everywhere and He will bring everyone into judgment. God's standard will not be based on who participated in rituals or who mouthed the right words. The standard for judgment will be the keeping of the covenant to love God with all one's being and your neighbor as yourself. Psalm 50

Because it is God's character to forgive, full confession of sin restores full experience of salvation and relationship with God. Psalm 51

When we trust God we don't have to fear any enemies. Psalm 52

To think that one can live apart from God or oppose God is just foolish. Psalm 53

It does not matter how big the problem is or how powerful the enemy is to the faithful, because God helps them. He will set things right and deliver His people.  Psalm 54

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone. We had a great day of celebrating with church, family and friends. We celebrate the risen Lord, the beginning of the new creation, the first-fruits and firstborn from the dead. It is the reason we have hope. May God bless everyone as they enjoy their Resurrection Day celebration.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Workin’ at the Carwash–PIU Style

SAMSUNG            On Guam probably the most popular way to raise money for an organization is to have a car wash. It is a good way to help people out and it contributes to a cleaner island. SAMSUNG            Today was the PIU senior class car wash to raise money for their activities. I took my little red 49er-mobile down to get clean and spend some time with the students. Thanks to the Lutheran Church of Guam for letting us use their parking lot. I enjoyed being there with my grandkids and they enjoyed the ice cream cones afterward.

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The kids enjoyed some sand box time in the church playground. Senior class rep Esme took care of the accounting.

Maundy Thursday

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It is Saturday here on Guam. We observed Good Friday yesterday at home. I had some good quiet time for reflection. Thursday night we observed Maundy Thursday at the Lutheran Church of Guam with our friends there. They put on a drama of the Last Supper. In the play each disciple reflected on his relationship with Jesus and considered the question, “Is it I?” who would betray Jesus. As we took communion after the drama I found myself meditating on my relationship with Christ and how I have the capability within me to be a betrayer as well. That Jesus reached out to his enemies as they betrayed him is an amazing thing. I am both thankful for it and challenged by it. (I borrowed the picture above from Billy Edwin because his pictures are way better than mine! Actually I think somebody else took this picture with Billy’s camera since Billy is in the picture, 2nd from the right.)

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Mike Owen and Billy Edwin played the parts of Andrew and ThaddeusSAMSUNG

Here is the picture from my phone. We are looking forward to sunrise service and breakfast with our church family and then plan to do the big service down at Ipao Beach tomorrow.