Thursday, August 25, 2011

Plebe Retreat

It has been forever since I have blogged and I apologize. I have been working on getting all my paperwork done to leave West Point. It is all done, and I am no longer a cadet at West Point. I am now free to go to Israel after a short stay at home to give me time to say goodbye to the family that I will not see for Christmas or Thanksgiving. This is the first time I will miss these major holidays, but God has got it taken care of so no worries.

So the title of this post is Plebe Retreat because this past week while sitting at West Point waiting for my paperwork to be processed I had to do something. Not only was I bored, but I felt like there must be a reason God has me here. This led me to help out with the Plebe Retreat. For those not from West Point, a plebe is what freshman are called. In essence, this was a christian retreat for freshman with upper class as small group leaders and facilitators.

The best group EVER:

Obviously...this was my group. I had some great guys with some amazing stories and backgrounds. And to be honest, I know God wanted me here at West Point for this time. A time not to be waiting on paperwork, but to be fellowshipping with fellow belivers.

The weekend was focused on the theme "Breaking Free." Breaking free from whatever holds you back from living for God. The Bible passage that was chewed on all weeend was Lazarus being raised from the dead in John 11:1-45. It was looked at from Mary's, Martha's, and then Lazarus' perspective. For me, the most powerful perspective was that of Lazarus because he had to break free from his burial clothes to serve Jesus:

"44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, 'Unbind him, and let him go.'"

As christians are we still wearing our burial clothes or did we allow ourselves to be reborn in Christ? Or did we allow only certain areas of our life to be reborn? Are we holding onto pieces of are old life that we just can't get rid of?

Makes you think...

This weekend was amazing and life changing. There was a cross that we layed some of our "burial clothes" at for Christ to renew us. Christ showed up and changed lives. I pray that this power experienced at the retreat does not fade, but gets put into West Point. These plebes can make a difference at West Point and truly take out some of the pessimism. Complaining does not make West Point go by faster it just makes cadets more negative human beings.

Lord bring your light to all those that need it!!! 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Very Words of God

Leading from the city of Miletus there was a 15 mile long road lined with shops and statues of stone lions. It led to a place called Didyma. What was in Didyma and why were people walking down a 15 mile road just to go to Didyma? The road led to the 2nd largest temple in the world, and it was dedicated to the god of Apollo. He was the god of light, music, and oracle. An oracle is a message from a god. It is a word that comes in answer to a question. Obviously God did not like this because God tells us to not seek spiritists or mediums as you can see from Leviticus.
“‘Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 19:31 (Temple of Apollo)

But that is not really the point that is trying to be made by Ray Van Lander. An oracle is not necessarily a bad thing. The word oracle is used 18 times in the Old Testament and 2 in the New Testament. The word oracle is even translated as the “very words of God.” The problem was not the word of God. The problem was which god you got the word from. To the one who believed in the one true God this temple was an abomination. To be clear, this temple was not of God in any way shape or form.
Let us see how they get an oracle in this temple to see if we can learn anything about our relationship with God.  Let us say there is a family that has walked the long road to go to the temple and ask a question.
Step 1: First they would come to the sacred well and wash to cleanse themselves. The priest would then wash the sheep they brought. Then they would be purified and ready to sacrifice the lamb.
Step 2: A priest of Apollo would slaughter the sheep and then the sheep’s liver would be read. Based on the liver the priest would know if Apollo would want to hear the question. Basically yes or no. He would probably respond with something like “Apollo will hear your question.”
Step 3: Next the family would stand in amongst the large columns of the temple in front of the crasmagropean (oracle door). But the door would be shut so they would wait and wait and even a day or two could pass by. Then one day they would hear the latch of the doors being drawn open and then the doors would slam open. Most likely the doors would be 15-20 foot high doors. Then behind the door would come the priest of Apollo dressed like the statue of Apollo possibly wearing a shimmering gold rob and walking to drums. 
Step 4: The priest of Apollo would shout out: “The great god Apollo will hear your request!” The family would fall to their knees and bow down. The head of the family would ask the question as the priest wrote it down.
Step 5: The door would be closed again after receiving the question and then the family waits.
While the family waits, let’s go and see what is happening behind the door. Now keep in mind no one but the priests could go behind the doors. Inside there would be a large room and at the end of the room a smaller inner temple in which the oracle sat. The oracle was typically an older woman. She would sit suspended on a tripod over a hole in the earth where fumes would come out. Today we know that fumes were very close to the substance glue. So her sitting there was like sniffing glue all day long.
The oracle would get the question from the priest and in her ecstasy she would answer and the priest would jot it down. He would then eventually put it into poetry. Then the day would arrive when the oracles would be spoken.
Step 6: The family’s waiting was over and the 2 huge doors would open once again. The answer would be given. “The very word of the god Apollo” would be spoken.
After reading this, tell me what you feel. You probably feel in awe of what happened just as they would have felt. They did so much and then they received the word of god. Good job family that went through all the steps.
What has happened to us?!?!?!
We have the very words of God. All of them. We carry them around and hide them in boxes to collect dust. No sheep, no livers, and no washing. An archeologist found an inscription on one of the 122 columns that held the temple up. It said that one column cost 40,000 denary and that a stone cutter made 2 denary a day. This means that it took the stone cutter 20,000 days to finish the column. The stone cutter also would stay on the same stone until finished. 20,000 days is around 57 years! A stone cutter would spend 57 years of his or her life to make one column. (Stone column in Apollo's temple)

For what did the stone cutter do this? To hear a word from god spoken from a women that was high on something?
57 years!!! And I cannot get up 10 minutes earlier to read my Bible.
What has happened to discipleship? How many scriptures can you recite today? How many chapters have you read? When was the last time you read the whole Bible?
To be like the Rabbi is to be a man or women of the text. 57 years to hear the uttering’s of a poor women high on something. Memorize and read the Bible. And if you tell me you do not have the time I ask you: how badly do you want to be a disciple?
Jesus said come follow me and then He said go teach them everything I taught you. But, how can you teach anyone to obey if you do not know what he taught?
Be a man or women of the text!!
Your Friend,


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I just bought my plane ticket to Israel!!!!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
I first want to say thank you. I have reached my first milestone in fundraising thanks to everyone that has helped support me. I seriously could not have done it without you. I leave September 27, 2011 for Tel Aviv, Israel and each day I get more and more excited.
This is my first milestone met and it gives me great hope for this trip. A few weeks back I had very little money to work with. It was barely enough for me to swim to Israel or maybe take a row boat. But I prayed long and hard to God in search of answers. Did I misread you God? Am I not supposed to go to Israel? But God reassured me. He told me to have faith and not lose heart.
“So that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”
 And 2 weeks later I have had a 600% increase in my initial funds. All because of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. Amen Amen Amen. He not only allowed me to receive help from all those that gave via support letters and Paypal. He also provided opportunities for me to work in different capacities and raise money that way. Our God is an awesome God and he deserves all the praise.
As many of you know, this is my first milestone of many and will have to raise more money, but God is faithful. I have faith that He will continue to help me raise money because He is awesome and all money belongs to Him anyway. Thank you to everyone who has helped so far and please continue to pray for me.  
Talk to you later!!