Brief Bio

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Quezon City, Metro-Manila, Philippines
I am a runner, pastor, sociologist, teacher, and missionary. After living in Chicago for 6 years, I discerned a call to go to Manila, Philippines to live and work among the urban poor, and combine my passions for ministry, running, and the oppressed. After serving in the Philippines in 2012 and 2013, I returned to the United States for two years to finish my dissertation, get ordained, spend time with my family, and work at a neighborhood center in Kansas City. Since then, I have been working in the Philippines with Companion With the Poor as a missionary. Each day I look forward to how God will direct my steps as I live into His work of restoring a broken world.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

To Live IN the World, but not OF the World

I was thankful for the devotional "The Spirit of the Age" (below) this morning from Our Daily Bread.  It is amazing how difficult it is to resist the temptations of not just our inner flesh, but also the atmosphere around us (i.e. the cultural influences). As this devotional says, "worldly influence is nearly impossible to escape."

This was so true when I was back in the States for two months, and even here in Manila. While transitions between the two worlds can give me a chance to reflect on the systems in place, and almost remain untethered by the environments, I have already recognized how being back here has begun bringing my spirit down, and cause me anxiety, two influences that this environment in Manila has on me (I have also recognized how much I succumbed to the environment when I was back in the States - see below). I also believe that the longer we remain in one place, the stronger the influence of the atmosphere around us becomes. That is, unless we are more intentional about resisting and praying against its effects - then working toward changing it. 

As an example of this, here in Manila my temptation is to overexert myself, which wears on me after a time (it also wore on me during my ministry and work in Chicago). Partly because I have been putting myself in places of need, and partly because my "ministry" mindset has switched on, and is hard to turn off :) When I was back in the States, especially my last month in Boston, my temptations came from the other end - apathy to get involved with the needs of those around me, and contentment with studying and being comfortable. I think that though these temptations are partly internal, they also stem from my external environment.

I do believe we have seasons in life to rest from our work (like my month in Boston, where my focus was more on study, which allowed me time to rest too), and that there are seasons where we must invest more into work or ministry. However, my desire would be to find some level of balance between work, rest, worship, study, and play so that I could sustain my efforts (especially in ministry), over the long haul.

I am excited to continue learning how to do this, and thankful for the example of others in my life, like my brother and Shelley, Pastor Sonny and Ate Grace, and especially the stories of Jesus in the gospels, who have all shown me a good example of how this is possible!

"The Spirit of the Age", From Our Daily Bread
Ephesians 2:1-10
by Dennis Fisher

"You He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world." - Eph 2:1-2

Every age has its own thoughts, ideas, and values that influence the culture, the "spirit of the age." It is the kind of growing consensus that morally lulls us to sleep, gradually causing us to accept society's latest values.

The apostle Paul called this corrupting atmosphere the "course of this world." Describing the lives of the believers at Ephesus before they encountered Christ, he said that they were "dead in trespasses and sins" and "walked according to the course of this world" (Eph 2:1-2). This is the world's peer pressure - a satanically inspired system of values and ideas that cultivates a lifestyle that is independent of God.

Jesus intends for us to live in the world (John 17:15), so worldly influence is nearly impossible to escape. But He's given us His Word to so permeate our thinking that we don't have to become conformed to the world's values (Rom 12:1-2). Instead, God helps us walk in His light (Eph 5:8), in the Spirit (Gal 5:25), in love (Eph 5:2), in truth (3 John 4), and in Christ (Col 2:6).

As we walk in God's power and spend time in His Word, He gives us the strength to live according to kingdom values and not the spirit of the age.

Father, You have made us alive in Christ and now we have a new kind of thinking that differs from the world. Teach us Your Kingdom's values that we might learn to walk in love. Amen.

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