The Other F Word

I’m on a retreat with my youth staff from Island ECC. I wasn’t part of the planning committee (and by committee, I primarily mean my colleague Amanda), so I’m just along for the ride. Like any good retreat, there’s a healthy combination of relaxation and reflection. I shouldn’t be surprised at the reflection topics, but again I’m overwhelmed at the amount of time I’ve been spending thinking about family and their influence on my relationship with God.

Just when I thought we might be done with the evening, we decided to watch a movie. As we bounced around some ideas, we settled on a documentary called The Other F Word. The title is quite intriguing, but I had to surpress a chuckle when I found out the F word stands for FATHER.

I think God’s trying to get my attention.

Anyway, it was an intriguing and occasionally insightful movie. The storyline follows the lives of punk rockers that have become dads. I especially liked what Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Art Alexakis (Everclear), Ron Reyes (Black Flag), and Jim Lindberg (Pennywise) had to say about fatherhood. [As a note of warning, it’s not for those sensitive to the standard F word or other words like it.]

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This Thursday I’m heading to the United States for a conference organized by Simply Youth Ministry. Once it’s over, I’m going to spend a week with my immediate family. I’m hoping and praying that God will help shed some light on why I’ve been bombarded with thoughts and reflections surrounding my family – particularly my dad.

Channeling Frustrations

Some days, weeks, or even months can be filled with challenges and frustrations. That’s why it’s important to have a good outlet or two or 14. Today, I accessed them all.

I’m very thankful for all my outlets. This post is dedicated to them:

  • Jesus – “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30)
  • My wife – You are amazing and a God-send. Thank you for your listening ear and encouraging words
  • My accountability partner – For agreeing to pray for me regularly
  • Good friends – That put up with my ranting and raving and also listen to me and provide good advice
  • The HK Youth workers – Thank you for praying over the Island ECC staff today. So many of you are also tons of fun (especially that intense foosball game today!)
  • The Witthoft family – You are good friends, ideal mentors, and extremely gracious

Prayer Warriors

Now if only I were healthy enough to play ultimate frisbee at this time… I would have used that outlet too!

Make haste, O God, to deliver me! 
   O LORD, make haste to help me! 
Let them be put to shame and confusion 
   who seek my life! 
Let them be turned back and brought to dishonor 
   who delight in my hurt! 
Let them turn back because of their shame 
   who say, “Aha, Aha!”

  May all who seek you 
   rejoice and be glad in you! 
May those who love your salvation 
   say evermore, “God is great!”

Psalm 70:1-4

Complaining and Grumbling

My pastor spoke to the whole church staff today and confessed (as he also did this past Sunday in front of the whole congregation) about his recent bout against complaining and grumbling. He said that he has generally been a joyful guy, quick to praise, and slow to complain. 'Stop complaining' photo (c) 2009, Aitor Calero - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/However, he said that as of late, he’s noticed some of that contentedness has been replaced by grumbling. This is the thing that he would like to focus on giving up to God, hoping that our Lord will help turn this attitude around before 2012 is over.

Since then, I did a quick search on Bible Gateway typing in “grumbl” (to include past, present, and future tense). I found it striking that nearly all of the results fell into two categories:

  1. The Israelites complaining against Moses while wandering through the desert
  2. The Pharisees complaining against Jesus’ works or Jesus telling the Pharisees not to grumble

'There is absolutely no reason to complain or bitch!' photo (c) 2010, Walter Lim - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/I find it ironic that the top complainers seem to do so while God is showing Himself mightily. When God is working great wonders, we seem to find the nerve to complain with a renewed intensity.

God has been doing mighty things in my heart these past months. This is fantastic news, but it also worries me because I’ve been doing some complaining to God throughout. In other words, I’m just like the wandering Hebrews and the ancient Pharisees! Now that I’ve recognized this, hopefully I can do some changing myself. With God’s help, I’d like to turn this around in the near future.

“Lord, give me the humility to repent and the courage to change!” Amen.

A Giant Sigh of Relief

Jumpphoto © 2011 Hamad AL-Mohannna | more info (via: Wylio)
Finally, after six months of searching, I now have a job for the upcoming school year.

Ironically, in spite of a dozen applications to schools in Hong Kong, I won’t actually be teaching. This was a situation where the job kind of fell into my lap.

Here’s a brief backstory for the new reader: In November of 2010, I decided there was something new in store for me after completing school year. Many thought this was strange because teaching at ICS is a stable job, the students are among the best, and my reputation is quite stellar. What more could a person ask for?

The reasons for leaving are a bit etherial, but here’s what I know: I feel like I’ve been a little stagnant. When you’re stuck, you just need to move. Also, I think it’s healthy for teachers to take a break from time to time. A person needs outside experiences to bring into the classroom. It keeps teachers fresh, relevant, and interesting.

smile!photo © 2006 Sean Jackson | more info (via: Wylio)
Furthermore, as a Christian, I’ve spent time in prayer. The answer (though not audible) I kept getting back was that there was something different from ICS and that I needed to take a step out in faith. I’ve done that, and now I know that it was right.

Next year, I’ll be the assistant youth director at Island ECC. I’ll be working alongside Marcus Kroese and Amanda Fung, and we’ll be building relationships with kids all over Hong Kong. More specifically, I get to work with the middle school age children. I’m really looking forward to a vibrant, high-energy profession and ministry.

As a final note, I want to thank all the people that have stood by me along the way. Thank you to those that prayed for me, encouraged me, and reminded me that something great would come along.