This blog is going no-where, but what it is doing is getting a facelift. My good friend Scott is moving all content over to his new theme and then we will hop back online. Thanks for your patience. Till then check out a few other sites that rule.
One of the aspects of my life that I am most passionate about is seeing people get the chance to experience Christ in new and transformational ways, participating in His mission alongside a tight-knit community of fellow Jesus followers. Few things embody this experience better than our annual Justice Discipleship Training School (JDTS). Having worked with YWAM for more than 17 years, I am more convinced than ever that his program is the “genuine article”. Here’s some info (PLEASE SHARE THIS!):
Justice Discipleship Training School
September 26th 2011- February 24th 2012
(includes Christmas break)
“What does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” -Micah 6:8
Our JDTS is a five month intensive in spiritual and missional formation. The first three months concentrates on engaging students in a holistic discipleship experience that challenges the mind, heart and body in a praxis oriented program. Offered in the heart of Winnipeg’s inner city West End, students will integrate in one of the city’s most culturally diverse, yet poor neighbourhoods. Our emphasis on justice means that as part of the community, students will engage the realities of poverty, injustice, racism and much more, all the while having the opportunity to respond in exciting new ways.
With a strong emphasis on hands on training, every fourth week of the lecture phase will be an intensive local outreach where students will get to be involved in grass-roots urban/justice ministries in the city. This will allow students to experience and engage the realities of urban missions during the training phase, making the most of what they are learning.
After a short Christmas break, the students return for the outreach & service phase of the school. This phase is an international, cross-cultural missions service outreach, where students will begin to explore the implication of what they have learned beyond simple application. Again with an emphasis on justice, students will participate in “preaching the Gospel” with their whole selves – in word and deed. Our first school served in restoring the tsunami devastated community of the famous Phi Phi Island in southern Thailand, while two other schools served in Uganda. Our most recent schools served among displaced people in Chiang Mai, Thailand and Tijuana, Mexico.
The upcoming 2011 JDTS will travel to northern Thailand for their international outreach, working among the migrant community and tribal groups living along the Thai-Burmese border, who are among the poorest and highest at-risk people groups of Thailand.
I started Bible College in the year of our Lord 1990. Some great things happened in 1990, specifically in music. They Might Be Giants came out with “Flood”, MC Hammer came out with “Please Don’t Hurt Em” not to mention the Black Crows, Nine Inch Nails, Sinéad O’Connor, Bruce Dickinson, 2 Live Crew, Jane’s Addiction, INXS, Slayer and the Pogues. For a complete list check it here. OK, now back to 1990 and me being in Bible College.
The reason I went to Bible College was that I wanted to be a missionary. It’s funny looking back at that time, specifically at my missions class. I was just looking at my grades and I got a C- in missions and a D+ in personal evangelism (good thing that is not the criteria for changing the world). I went to Bible school for two years and then took a break in 1993 to do my Youth With A Mission (YWAM) school. Then in 1994 I went back to Bible College to finish my AA in Biblical studies.
After I graduated I went full time with YWAM and have done that for the last 17 years. In 2005 I had this crazy idea that I was getting dumber. I started thinking about going back to school and finishing my degree. It was only a thought for a short time when my friend Joseph Smith (not the Morman dude) came up to me with a cheque for $1000 telling me to go back to school and finish.
It has been a long and sometimes hard/lazy road, but yesterday, May 18, 2012, 22 years after I started this journey I got my College degree. It is a Degree in Biblical Education (sheesh, with that many years of schooling I should be a freaking doctor). So needless to say I am very proud of myself for finishing. I hope it is an encouragement to others who feel like it is to late to do something. I hope it is an encouragement to others who feel that they don’t have a second, third or fourth chance. It sure is one for me.
This is a problem, a problem that we, the church of Jesus Christ get the privilege of being a part of seeing ended. Today, as a part of our 30 day’s journey we as a community went without water and all liquid. No drinking it, no using it, no flushing with it, no nothing. This is the 4th time I have participated in this since Sept. of 2010 and I hate it. I mean give me a day without food, without coffee, without cloths, anything, but a day without contact with water is brutal. I have been mean, grouchy, short-tempered and distracted all day. A thousand apologies to anyone who has gotten the fallout of that.
I have seen how hard it is to get things done when you have a blinding head ache cause you haven’t had water. This is why poor/developing countries are still developing, cause they are focussed on staying alive, not on building bigger and better stuff. I mean, I could barely focus on my own patience, or thoughts, let alone focus on getting work done. It just continually brought me back to those with nothing. Those who are thirsty, those who are drinking water that is killing them, those who throw all else aside just to get a cup of water from a stagnant pond miles away from their village.
Why do we do this? Why the 30 day’s? Well it is easy, cause all day I remembered those who will wake up tomorrow feeling the same way I felt today. Those who can’t turn on the tap and get fresh water to drink. Those who drink water that is taking their very life. That is why. I think differently about the poor after today. I empathize with them, and in turn I will do something to help, even if that thing is just one small step.
Consider going through 30 day’s with your staff, friends, family, church or small group. It is only 30 day’s and it will change your life for ever.
I have been thinking a lot recently about the idea of Short Term Missions. This idea that we in the western world spend thousands of dollars taking our students overseas to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the poor. There has been much talk about whether or not this is really affective, or if there is a better way that we as the church could invest our money in world missions. I have thought about this many times and recently this is where my thoughts are taking me.
Let me start by saying that I believe in and am sold on short-term missions. I have been setting up, coordinating and leading short-term mission trips for the last 12 years. I do it because I believe in it and I have seen beautiful things resulting from it. I have seen the long-term workers on the ground get encouraged. I have seen the locals that the students are coming to serve get blessed, but mostly I have seen the lives of the students going on these trips eternally changed. Now I believe in Short term missions, but what if we started looking at it differently, what if we started calling it something different, something that is tied to the majority of results within short-term missions? The result being our students changed, challenged and encouraged. What if we called it reverse missions.
Students are growing up in a world where they are not really challenged or stretched in their faith. There isn’t much persecution, we are free to worship whoever or whatever we want and to be a Christian or follower of Jesus is not a way of life, but seems to be nothing more than a belief system. Most Christian kids growing up in todays culture look or live no different from all their non-Christian friends This is a problem. I also believe that it needs to change, and that change happens when we are doing mission.
When we take students on mission something happens to their lives. They see God working in and through them, they see God in way’s that they have never seen before and they meet other believers who are living radical lives out of their belief in Jesus. This is the thing that happens to the majority of kids who go on a short-term mission trip. Yes all those other things happen, but this is the primary result of a short-term trip, changed lives of the students we are bringing.
Since we are learning so much from these christians in foreign countries whose faith costs them their families, their jobs, their freedom and sometimes their lives what would it look like to take our students over to these countries not only to share the gospel, but to learn the gospel? This happens all the time in the world through foreign exchange programs but do we do this for our students growing up in the church? I have not seen it done very intentionally, but I always see it as a byproduct of doing mission.
If we dish out thousands of dollars for our kids to get on planes and share their faith, would we still be willing to dish out thousands of dollars for our kids to go on these same trips, but to learn about faith? I think we are already doing this, but we are not calling it what it is. Most Christians in Thailand, India, China and Cambodia and other developing or 3rd world nations can’t afford to come over here, so are we willing to send our students over there? I would dare to say that if we started looking at mission in this way that our students would come back changed, on fire and ones who’s lives mirror that of Jesus, because they have invested in their faith, they have taken the time, spent the money and saw how Jesus us outside of our luke warm, compromising American Christian culture.
Like I said, these are just thoughts formulating in my head, I would love some feedback from you and discussion on this. Cheers.
This is my 39th Good Friday. I have known about Jesus and his death for 29 of those 39 years. As I was thinking about Jesus today and the story of Good Friday I found myself going to the end of the story, the part where he is not dead anymore. I tried to stay away from it, but it kept coming back. Then today, at 2:55 in the afternoon it hit me.
I was reading my bible as I have been these past few days leading up to the crucifixion. I got to the part where it talks about Jesus crying out to God in the 9th hour. When the Bible talks about the 9th hour it means 3pm. So, I looked at my phone and saw that it was 5 minutes to 3. It was then that it hit me. “This is real, this really happened. I don’t understand it, sometimes I don’t think about it, but it really happened. 2000 years ago a good man, who did nothing wrong was taken, beaten, humiliated, tortured and hung on a tree till he died in front of hundreds, maybe thousands of cheering and approving people.
Not only was Jesus a good man, Jesus was God. This is the greatest injustice of our time. An innocent man and the creator of the world had His life taken from him for no good cause. The thing about it though was that He let them kill Him. He didn’t fight back, He didn’t argue, He just followed his Fathers will for His life and forgave his murderers. WHAT?
This weekend, specifically tomorrow if you are a follower of Jesus I encourage you to grieve. Grieve the death of an innocent man. Grieve the death of the one who came to save you. Grieve the death of God. And while you are grieving Jesus grieve the reason that He came to die. He came to die not only for our sin, but the sin of the whole world. He died for the young girl who is being trafficked into sex slavery as I write. He died for the sin of those in Sudan and Darfur who are kidnapping little kids, training them to fight for their army and watching them murder their own families to show their allegiance. He died for those who are dying every 18 seconds from water and food related disease.
Spend tomorrow grieving and praying for the lost, the hurting and the broken. And then on Sunday let’s celebrate that all is not lost. Celebrate that Jesus is alive and that He does see the hurting and oppressed of our world, and He has called you and I to be apart of bringing the hope of life and Jesus to them.
I am sitting here at home watching Coachella broadcast live via YouTube and thinking about my day. Today at church was a beautiful, yet very hard time for me. It was beautiful because it was Palm Sunday, a day where we remember Jesus coming into Jerusalem as prophesied and being worshipped by the people. It was also beautiful because Emma and Abby’s class did a song in front of the church. i sat there and watched my little girls jumping, laughing, singing and having an amazing time worshipping Jesus.
At the same time, it was a hard morning for me. Why? Because as we celebrated and worshipped Jesus I sat there and questioned my faith. Not my faith in Jesus, but my faith in my faith in Jesus. I don’t even know if I should be writing this here. I mean I am a Christian, a missionary with YWAM and co-founder of Steps of Justice. Well, it’s out there now, might as well keep going 😉
I guess I just wonder what happened to me. I mean, did I grow up? Did I loose my innocent, childlike, uninhibited faith and desire to worship Jesus? I remember that as a kid, and even as a young adult I just went for it in worship and in my faith. It seems the older I get the more tainted I am, the more concerned I get about looking foolish.
Amy and I were talking to our good friend Chris about this time when I was with YWAM in Seattle. One day during worship I felt like I was supposed to go and play the drums. Now I don’t play drums and I never have, but I felt Jesus saying “go.” I walked up to my friend Rusty and told him what I felt Jesus saying and he just started laughing and told me to go for it. So, I shuffled my way to the front of the room and started playing drums. Was it good? No. Was it good for me and for the rest of the school and staff to see me walk in obedience to God, even if it meant I looked foolish? Yes.
Here is the thing, I wonder if Jesus spoke to me now about doing something that was outside of my comfort would I do it? My guess is no. Maybe that’s why Jesus doesn’t ask me to do stuff like that anymore, cause He knows I would say no. The thing is, a part of me wants to say yes, a very scared part of me.
I am done being luke warm. I am done being scared. I want to and am striving to be someone who lives their lives out of a faith, belief and total trust in Jesus. I find myself being embarrassed or even hesitant to talk about my faith, or life in Jesus. The more hesitant I am, the less passionate I am and the less passionate I am the more I question my faith in my faith in Jesus.
Things are going to change, things have already stated to change. Me writing about this and admitting it is a step.
Photo by The Dif
Not to long ago Demi and Ashton started a foundation called DNA. In their words “We founded DNA to eradicate child sex slavery and human trafficking worldwide.” I have followed Ashton and Demi on Twitter for a while now and it has been evident that they are passionate about the issue of sex slavery, specifically with kids.
This past week they did a huge push for their foundation with the “real men don’t buy girls” videos. They are video’s of celebrity men doing humorous things to show that they are real men. Sean Penn is ironing a grilled cheese sandwich and the tag line is “real men know how to use an iron. Real men don’t buy girls.” There is a number of these videos that they launched this week, one of them is embedded below.
I have heard about the push back on these videos. People saying that they are skirting the issue and are using humor to share about the idea of male macho-ness and less to about the issue of child sex trafficking. I heard about this push back from a friend who forwarded me an article. Then after reading the article I watched some interviews with them on. On CNN Ashton and Demi were asked the question “how do you feel about the push back?”
The answer they gave is the same answer as I am going to give now. They saw a need and they did something. They used their power, fame and money to spread news about an issue that they bleed for. They are sharing it to the people that they have influence over. Specifically young men, single or married who see buying a girl for sex as a sport, or as the cultural norm. Sure these adds are funny, they are silly, but they stick. That is one thing that Ashton and Demi are good at, pushing something that sticks.
Ashton was the first to get to 1 million Twitter followers and was crowned the king of twitter (whatever that means). They know their audience, they know their followers. They know their followers are not the same followers as IJM, or Not For Sale, so they put out something that would connect with them.
To be honest, I am a bit pissed at the push back. Why can’t we work together? If you care about these issues, wouldn’t you be happy that someone like them is bringing such awareness to it? They link to approx.. 200 different organizations on their site, they are not trying to take over the world, they are just doing what they are passionate about. Are we jealous that they are so big now, even though they are so new and young? Even more, are we jealous or feel that they are not legit because they are actors? Or are they disqualified because they make movies about promiscuous sex and then are talking about these issues of sex slavery? To my knowledge Ashton and Demi are not followers of Jesus, but my hope is that these issues change them, that it cuts them so deep that it changes what they make movies about and what movies they endorse.
I am taking their side on this one. I am glad that they are reaching a demographic of people about this issue that are probably totally ignorant to the problem? A demographic of people who wouldn’t listen to me, or a preacher or missionary for that matter. I am glad that they have taken their steps to do justice.
Who we are and what we care about is made clear from those who know us the most. When people talk about you what do they say? How do they describe you? What words do they use, what questions do they ask and where does the conversation go when people are talking to you? Sometimes when we don’t know who we are or what we care about it is best to listen to those closest to us.
Yesterday I was in a leadership meeting with the YWAM location I am a part of. There were approx. 40 of us sitting around a table sharing ideas about future, vision and mission statements. There were at least a half a dozen times during the day where the statement was shared “we should call our ministry Steps Of…, or Steps of …” It happened so much that I started to get annoyed and bothered at the mockery. Incase you didn’t know, I recently co-founded a ministry called Steps of Justice. I care deeply about justice issues and have for many, many years now.
The other thing that came up a number of times during the meeting was the statement “hey Phil, when we come up with ideas as to what people like about YWAM San Diego/Baja lets see how many people say Justice. Lets see how much influence that you have over people.” Now these statements were not said in spite, they were just said cause I am an easy target, and I’m ok with that.
To be honest, I left the meeting kind of pissed at all the comments. The more I thought about it the more I got frustrated. Then it hit me, the reason they are talking about Steps and Justice is because I talk about Steps and Justice. It is what I bleed, it is what I live and it is what I bring to those in my life. All of a sudden I felt different. I felt proud that I am known for something. Even if there is mockery involved (in a fun way), the point is that I have done a good job sharing what matters to me.
What do you bleed for? What are you mocked and talked about regarding? Listen closely to those around you, what they say about you tells the truth. It is either an encouraging truth or a difficult truth to accept, but it is a truth none the less. I am glad that I live a life that get’s talked about, how about you?