Our Mission Statement

Friday, March 25

Headlines in the news

If you don't keep up with the news, you are missing out on some interesting stuff. Apparently, God had a wife... but the details were edited out of the Bible by the men who wrote it. Sammy Hager (former Van Halen lead singer) was abducted by aliens. There is no Hell, according to Bob Bell, the minister at the Mars Hill Bible Church, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Barry Bonds thought the steroids he was receiving was flax seed oil. Really? I mean, REALLY? Balderdash! (word was used last Sunday in worship assembly and I am now dedicated to using this word as much as I can) Oh, and Madonna's plans to build a school for girls in Malawi is over before it ever got started. It seems the $3.8 million that was donated is gone without a piece of land purchased, a brick laid... just outlandish expenditures on salaries, cars, and golf course memberships for the "handpicked" staff. Balderdash! (Can you imagine what TORCH could do with $3.8 million?)

On the other hand, good news is out there. You just have to look for it. sometimes you have to look for it really hard. Most of you know I am a die hard Alabama fan. I bleed Crimson. Well, I guess everyone bleeds crimson, but I bleed with a capital C. Anyways, Alabama football is a pretty big deal to me and I try to follow the news on the team, players, coaches, etc. I mean, after all, I live in a men's dorm with guys from Texas, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, California, South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia... when trash talk starts up you better know your stuff. I pretty much live for this ya know!

So, I read an article that really caught my attention. And it had nothing to do with bench presses, 40 yard dashes, or agility drills. It was a story about some Alabama football players and how they spent their spring break. With head lines the way they are these days, if you hear college students and spring break in the same sentence, you are about to read something that is not for the faint of heart. Some of the things that go on during spring break around the country is not suitable to be written, especially in this blog. But not so fast, not all news is bad... or shocking. Sometimes news is positive and uplifting... you just have to read about it in the middle of the paper for this rarely makes front page news.

The main character of the article was Barrett Jones, one of my favorite players for the Crimson Tide. Barrett is a junior offensive lineman for the tide, and a big man on campus. I mean, he really is big. 6'5" and 311 pounds big. All SEC, All American big. National championship ring big. He is a big man with a big heart. Last year Barrett went on a mission trip to Haiti during spring break to do earthquake relief. He flew into the Dominican Republic and then took a 6 hour Jeep ride into Haiti to work with other teammates and classmates in a variety of projects. It made such an impact that this year he went back with more players and a larger group (31 total) including his younger brother and mom and dad. For spring break this year they worked with construction of a school, worked at an orphanage, and worked in a feeding kitchen to feed the hungry. Spring break was more like spring work, especially knowing that spring football practice was starting up as soon as he got back to Tuscaloosa. But he said he wouldn't trade the experience for anything. "You go over there and see someone who literally has nothing, who lives under a tin roof in a mud hut... it really puts things in perspective as to how fortunate we are."

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? How many of us have said the very same thing? We might not be All American football players or even people that even get press time for what we do, but we are all in this together. Helping others. Helping those who are hurting. Helping those who are down trodden. Helping those whose lives have been shattered. Helping those who cannot help themselves. Providing food. Providing water. Providing shoes. Providing clothes. Providing medicine. Giving hope. Giving mercy. Giving peace. Giving ourselves. Giving Jesus. Not because we have to, but because we want to... answering the call that God gave when He said, "Who will go?" "Here am I, send me! Lord, send me!"

Many are answering the call. Many are putting on their traveling shoes. It won't be long till it will be time to pack our bags, grab our passports, and roll up our sleeves. I can almost smell the diesel fumes, feel the saw dust on my neck, and taste the papusas . I can almost hear the laughter from the children and see those big brown eyes. If this is your first trip, it won't be long till you will be saying the same things. For those who are not going this year, you are feeling the withdrawal pains. Many are called but few will answer. Yet God will take those which are brought before Him, and will bless us, and will use us, to do His good will. And in all things He will receive the glory and honor. We are His chosen vessels. God has prepared good works for us to do, and we are lucky and fortunate enough to be a part of it! How cool is that!

"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear." I Peter 3:15 We worship a might God. We serve a glorious Savior.
"O, what a glorious God! O, what a powerful Savior! All creation cries out around You, holy is the Lord. O, what a glorious God! O, what a powerful Savior! Mercy , grace, and goodness surround You, o-oh what a glorious God, o-ho, what a glorious God!
You speak with a voice like a crashing cymbol, o-oh, what a glorious God! You stretch forth Your hand and the whole world tembles, o-oh, what a glorious God.
Your rose from the dead to redeem Your people, o-oh, what a glorious God! You give us strength and we soar like eagles, o-oh, what a glorious God!
O, what a glorious God! O, what a powerful Savior! All creation cries out around You, holy is the Lord. O, what a glorious God! O, what a powerful Savior! Mercy, grace, and goodness surround You, 0-oh, what a glorious God, o-oh, what a glorious God!" Don Moen


Friday, March 18

March madness!

Spring break is in its final days here at Freed-Hardeman. In just a day or so students will be rolling back in from their well deserved break. Nearly 65% of our student body participated in mission trips during break, both stateside and abroad. The men's and women's basketball teams played in the national tournament, and the baseball and softball teams were traveling and playing in Florida. Others stayed here to do student teaching and a small number actually went home or elsewhere for a week off. 7 weeks of classes and this academic year is over! Wow.

Margaret and I were able to get away for a few days and went south. Way south. Florida Keys south! We went down to visit with Ken and Sandi Haab who live on Islamorada. They are heading up a team of 17 from the area and we had a cookout Monday evening and did a Q&A session with them. One of my former youth groupies (I guess that is the term...) Katie Haab, aka KTV, lives there too (and is indeed related to the other Haabs mentioned). It was really fun to see here all grown up and a Lipscomb alumni. While we were there we went to a HUGE seafood festival on Sunday afternoon, deep sea fishing (yes Steve, I did catch some fish!), and ate at some great restaurants. We also got to spend a day with friends from Miami and play a round of golf (pretty good day, only lost 6 golf balls!). Most importantly we saw the sun, enjoyed some great weather, and got a little R&R.

As you might have noticed, I have added a countdown for the Costa Rica and the Honduras trips. Just under 12 weeks for the Buenos Aires and under 14 weeks for Tegucigalpa. For most, the time can't go by fast enough... for others (like me!) it is going by way fast. Wait, let me put some emphasis on that... WAYYYYYYYY FAST!!! Trying to keep up with 175 people is not an easy task, no matter how much time you have. I know I say this a lot but with time zipping by at such a rapid clip it seems I need more time than what I am allotted. But all in all things are progressing well.

85% of the Costa Rica team have purchased their airline tickets. 69% have turned in all of their paper work. 85% have paid their deposits. For the Honduras trip, 79%have purchased or have tickets bought or secured, 88% have turned in paper work, and 91% have paid their deposits. Good numbers for sure, and I am hoping that we will have 100% on all categories at the end of the month. March 31 is the deadline for all paper work, deposits, and airline flight bookings. Check with your team leader if you are not sure which percentage you are in! Trust me, they know...

We are 5 1/2 weeks away from the due date for supply collections. All supplies need to be sorted, boxed, labeled, and inventoried before we send everything over to the Melbourne church of Christ to be loaded on the container. I will be sending our specific information soon on specifics on how to sort, label, and inventory your supplies. Our shipping manifest must be very specific and very complete. Each box or item must be labeled and numbered. Those that have done this before know the routine well and it is a pain but a vital necessity to make sure our container goes through the Honduras customs agency without any hitches. The better we do our job on this end speeds up the process of getting our container out of Porta Cortez and on to Tegucigalpa.

Speaking of supplies, I need to get a estimate from everyone on what they have collected so far and quantities. I need to know what supplies need to be emphasized for a final push before we leave. Right now the most important single item we need is toothbrushes. Hopefully everyone has already talked to their family dentist to get them to pitch in with donations. If not, Dollar General, Family Dollar, Fred's, and Dollar Tree is your best bet to buy toothbrushes. Wal-Mart, Target, and K-Mart do not carry inexpensive toothbrushes like the other stores mentioned. Quantity is important, we need approximately 5,000 toothbrushes for our hygiene packets. We try to put 5 brushes in a packet with 1 family size tube of toothpaste (the math whizzes out there already figured out we need 1,000 tubes of toothpaste). Disposable razors are also high on the list.

Our order of pharmaceutical medicines just arrived here in Henderson today. This is great news since it arrived 3 weeks ahead of schedule! (Yes, scary thought) With the payment of the medicines, along with deposits that need to be sent out in the next 2 weeks for hotel reservations, our Torch funds will be nearly depleted. This is just a subtle reminder that if you have not sent your deposits in we need them! Everything has a purpose behind it.

I want to thank all of you that have been working so hard for the past several weeks, even months, getting things ready for the trips. It is not an easy task to get your team to turn in applications, get rules sheets and Spanish release forms notarized, and collect money. It certainly is not easy doing fund raisers (although some of the things I have heard about sound like a ton of fun!) and trying to get donations for the work fund. Collecting supplies can be a bit of a pain too. Oh, yeah, don't forget those essays and letters of recommendation. Just remember, everything is done for a reason. Sometimes the big picture just doesn't come into focus till later on... sort of like those 3-D movies! (OK, maybe not, but at the time is sounded like a good analogy)

But, remember the purpose behind all of the madness... there are literally thousands of people that are crying out for help and guidance, praying for relief and a helping hand... not knowing that God has formed a group of people from all over the place into a team that will do His good will in due time. You are a part of that team and a part of His plan. That should send chill bumps down your back. It should humble you. And it should pump you up! Man, you got to love this stuff! Think of how many people that you know and have talked to that wanted to go on this trip but can't for one reason or another. But you get to go! You get to participate! You are a part of God's team. Whether you are literally going on the trip or supporting the team with donations, funds, or supplies, a difference is going to be made in a few months.

March madness... it is not always about basketball. Sometimes it is just the craziness that happens as a group of God's people work to get ready to do something remarkable. I like it... I like it a lot. Hasta luego!


Sunday, March 6

what do you see?

What do you see when you look in a mirror?

This might seem like an odd question, especially coming from me. But tonight, after sitting through our Sunday night mission group devo and Spanish class, watching a movie with friends, and doing my nightly lobby and duty and monitor's report, I sit in a quiet apartment with thoughts racing through my head. It is almost mid-March and I have been spending 2-3 hours a day working on plans for the mission trips, booking tickets, contacting hotels, and sending out emails and making phone calls for weeks. It has been a tremendously fast paced time with very little down time, let along quiet time. But now, at 2:30 in the morning, it is quiet and I have time to think.

Anyways, back to the question. What do you see when you look in a mirror? I don't like looking in a mirror. At all. I don't like what I see. For that matter, I don't like looking at recent photos in which I am in for the same reason. All I can see are flaws. The buzzed hair. Receding hairline. Wrinkles. Greying hair. The weight. Man, the list could go on and on. However, whether I like it or not, the mirror is a reflection of what I LOOK like. And sometimes, maybe most of the time, that is what I notice. I notice what I look like when I should be looking to see WHO I AM. For you see what I look like has little to do with who I am.

Sometimes I look into a mirror and I stare into my eyes. I try to see who I am. I try to see beyond the physical and look at what is behind the flesh and bone. I try to see who I am, what I have become, and what I want to be. I try to see the inward, the heart and soul, the inner man so to speak. I try to see what others see. Sure, I know what I physically look like and I know what they see that way, but what do people see when they look at me? What type of reflection do they see of my inner man? What do they see when they see my heart and soul? Do they see what I see or do they see something else?

James 1:23-24 talks about a man looking into a mirror. "Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it-not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it- they will be blessed in what they do." What is James talking about??? How can someone look into a mirror and forget what he looks like? Most of us spend a good deal of time looking in a mirror, whether we like it or not. After all, we want to look presentable. Nobody wants to go around with a piece of green yuk stuck between your front teeth, right? Most people are going to remember what color their hair is (usually), the color of their eyes (or color of their contacts), shape of their head and amount of facial hair. James certainly can't be talking about physical appearances.

But, what about the inner man? When you look in a mirror, what do you see THEN? What do you see when you are not looking at the length or color or style of your hair? What do you see when you are not looking at your cheekbones, lips, and skin tone? What do you see when you look at your character? Your moral stance? Your convictions? Your pride? Your integrity? Your perseverance? Your honor? Your conduct? Your loyalty? Your beliefs? Your patience? Your attitude about others? Your willingness to serve? Your Christianity? You see, your inner man can change. It can change daily! If you don't stop and take a good long look at yourself every now and then, you really can forget what you look like!

I am not the same person I was years ago. I have changed. When I run into someone that I have not seen for a long time we both usually have the same reaction. Neither of us look like we did the last time we saw each other. Aging does that... we assume people will look and ACT differently. We expect it. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Hopefully a maturing process has taken place. Paul writes in I Corinthians 13:11: "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish things behind me." As we age and mature we change from a child, physically and spiritually, to an adult, physically and spiritually. And the changes are constantly happening. We must constantly be looking into the mirror, the word of God, to take a good look at ourselves to see who we are and what we look like. Otherwise we could walk away and forget what we look like and reflect the world and what it is and represents. "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love of the Father is not in them. For everything of the world,- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life- comes not from the Father but of the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever." I John 2:15-17.

When I look into the mirror I see a changed man. I see a person who is changing every single day. I see a man who is trying to become more and more like Jesus but falls short on a regular basis. I see a man who falls down and gets back up. I see a man who is running the race and striving for the prize. Running, walking, and even crawling at times. But always trying to move forward and upward. Trying to keep my eye on the goal.

When you look into the mirror do you see a kitten or a lion? A prisoner or a conqueror? A run away slave or a faithful servant? A peasant or a child of the King? A loser or a victor? A worthless life of a priceless soul? Discarded or redeemed? Lost or saved?

What do you see in the mirror?