It’s Time

“It’s time!” You hear that a lot in August. School is cranking back up. Summer is over. Vacations are done. Routines are once again assumed. As a creature of habit, I tend to find some comfort in routine. I can settle into my weekly schedule of taking kids to school, working out, heading to the office, and hanging with students.

But this Fall is going to be different. “It’s Time!” is going to mean something different for me. I’m a HUGE fan of “24.” “24” manages to throw a whole season of crisis and action into a 24-hour period. And no matter what the crisis, or where he’s gone off to, Jack Bauer manages to right the ship and salvage an impossible situation, usually at great personal cost. In many ways, he’s a messiah image. No, I’m not saying we should be worshipping Jack Bauer or “24.” Modern media and drama weaves a messianic-type hero into most of the story lines we enjoy. Think about it. “The 5th Element.” Indiana Jones. The Star Wars Saga. Even “The Wizard of Oz” has a humanly flawed, somewhat unassuming “savior” that steps into the crisis and “rights the ship.”
I believe God has called us to step into the lives of many people who feel like there’s no hope. We are to step in and represent Jesus. And, although we are flawed like every other human, we represent a Savior who’s not. Think about the Biblical Heroes of old: Moses (murderer), Noah (a drunk), David (murdering adulterer), Sampson (womanizer), Peter (hot head), Paul (murderer)… You get my drift. And yet, a perfect God took these imperfect vessels and used them for HIs glory. God changed the world through flawed representations of an flawless Savior. He seeks to do the same today with you. But you have a choice, just as they did. Will you choose to say, “It’s time,” and embrace what God is calling you to do?

There’s a consistent theme that runs through the “24” seasons. Jack says it over and over throughout each crisis: “We’re running out of time!” Our theme this Fall for The THF Outfitters is going to fit this motif. It’s time for school, Fall, football, and a myriad of other things. But more so, it’s time to make a difference. It’s time to step up, represent Christ, and step into the fray of life as His ambassador. We will focus on taking His Light into the darkness of our culture so people can be rescued from their impossible situations.

It’s up to you. We’re running out of time. They need a Savior. Will you follow in the footsteps of this ancient work and join a long line of flawed and imperfect people who, in faith, answered Christ’s call? It’s time.

Share The Love – Tokyo Day 2

It was an interesting day, to say the least. We started the day with a trip to the largest Buddhist temple in Japan, the Asakusa Temple. It’s a place guarded by temple deities (large scary statues). The roof of the temple has a black dragon painted on it. We arrived in time to see a ceremony going on much the same as the ceremony I got on video last year. I managed to get back into the back before hand, so I was in a great spot. Monks came out and kept the rest of our team from coming back where I was. I read Scriptures out loud during the ceremony. Not in a disruptive way, but in a way that made sure the Word was spoken. Lindsey did the same, as did most of our team. We covered the temple in prayer and Scripture, asking God to bring Truth and Life to the people of Japan. As I read, God brought to mind Isaiah 55:11, “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” I knew that He was going to take His Word and do something special with it. And when He brought that to my mind, He also led me to leave my Bible there in the back where the Buddhist monks were walking back and forth. So, I left my Bible there knowing that God intends for someone to pick it up.

The temple is a very dark place, shrouded in a dreadful feeling of hopelessness as people try to manipulate fate through piety to gain a better future for themselves, resembling the same thing people do in America even though it looks MUCH different in practice. In theory, many try to manipulate God or fate to provide themselves hope and a future. As I stood in the temple and read Judges 2, I was reminded in that passage of a truth for us: ” “Because this nation has violated the covenant that I laid down for their forefathers and has not listened to me, I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the LORD and walk in it as their forefathers did.” So my prayer become that the Japanese people would allow God to change their hearts and turn them to Him. Prayer is a beginning place, but the bottom line is that without a change of heart, people don’t come to faith. And until they come to faith, they have no hope and no future. Join us in praying for them.

From the temple, we made it to a Turkish restaurant that does KaBobs and Doners. I had a beef doner AND most of Lindsey’s chicken doner! They are thinly sliced meat & pita pockets with lettuce, tomato, and a spicy dressing Good stuff.

After lunch, the teams dispersed to our train stations for 5 Minute English. Kaitlyn and I are on the same team, along with 6 others from Paramount. We took up our spot at the Musashi-Koganei station and started 2 hours of sharing with anyone who would listen. We had some good conversations. I handed out 5 “comic book” Bibles, called Manga. Kaitlyn handed some out, too. We shared with all ages and kinds of people. Kaitlyn’s highlight was one specific conversation she had. Here’s her version of the story:

Kaitlyn: “My coolest part of the day was getting to talk to a businessman. It was near the end of the day and we were packing up. There was a businessman walking down the other side of the sidewalk. I smiled at him and asked if he wanted to practice English with me. I didn’t expect him to come over, but he did. He came over and asked me what I was doing. I told him if he wanted to he could practice his English with me. We started talking, and I gave him a Hope Tract. He asked me what hope was and why we chose that word for the tract. I told him Jesus is the hope, and He gives us hope because He died for us. He responded in awe. We wrapped up our conversation with me giving him a Gospel of John book and he said he would read it! It was a God-thing! I was shocked that he talked with me, but afterward, I was excited that he would read the Gospel of John.”

Be praying for the man Kaitlyn shared with, and with all the people who got Bibles from us today. Pray for many to be saved through what was shared with them.

Another team member made a new friend today that I will tell you more about later. But be praying. God knows the details, and we will share more in person when we get home.

I’m sure that the others have stories to tell, but they are already asleep! It was a LONG day. Tomorrow will be even more so. We will travel for an hour and a half to a park to gather with other believers to worship. Then, after lunch, we will do park evangelism, playing American football, Frisbee, face-painting, and hopefully more connections and conversations with new friends. Be praying for us as we will do A LOT of walking and A LOT of connecting!

Thanks for your continued prayer for us. Amazing things are happening! I’ll try to get the Mackenzie, Machenzee, and Mario stories for tomorrow!


Tokyo – Day 1

I’m sitting above Shibuya’s famous train station/intersection, sipping on a Starbuck’s Americano as I watch 1,000’s of people 20′ below me pass through the busiest intersection in the world. If I remember right, over 1,000,000 people pass through here each day. I’m a little jet lagged AND I miss my family, but God reminds me that these feeling are temporary. He reminds me that the people I am watching have a condition that is much more dire.
Although its my second time to visit Tokyo, this is a much different trip than the first. During my first trip, my primary responsibility was to disciple/teach students on church planting and relationship evangelism. I was an equipper for the ones on the front line. This trip, I’m on the front line, doing connection point relationship building and evangelism in neighborhoods, train stations, and parks. During the first trip, there were 100 students and several sponsors. This trip, there’s 26 of us, including 7 adults. 6 of the students here are from THF.
The sea of lostness that stretches out before me is overwhelming. I mean, Tokyo is an overwhelming place anyway, with a population equivalent to the entire State of California, it’s a tight fit to get all 35 million people into a city roughly the size of Metro Houston! It’s very easy to be overwhelmed by the city itself. The thing that strikes me most, though, and evokes the deepest sense of urgency, is to look people in the eye as they walk by knowing that most of them have never even heard of Jesus. Less than 1% of the population here is Christian. My constant prayer today has been that God would change that. I’m praying that the people here would become acutely aware of the predicament and come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. I’m asking you to join me in that prayer as well.
As I watched my students today, it occurred to me how simple it is to share our faith with people. Start a conversation and share when you can. Pretty Simple. But, you know, it’s the same at home! Why don’t we do that at home? Why don’t we share more, share often overwhelmed by the human condition and need for Jesus? Why don’t we have a sense of urgency because time is short? Why don’t we feel drive to reach our friends and family like we’re driven to reach the nations?
There’s probably not a decent answer to these questions, except to say, we ought to be. We ought to be.

Parents of our kiddos: your kids did GREAT today! They are engaging people, sharing their faith, prayer walking, and making a kingdom difference. I already see that you will be getting a different student home than the one you sent on this trip. Thanks for praying!

Here’s a heads-up for tomorrow (later this evening for y’all), we will be prayer walking the largest Shinto/Buddhist temple in Japan in just over 12 hours. Pray with us. Pray for God’s Spirit to go before us and to give us opportunity to share as light in the darkness. It’s a moving experience that I believe will change your student FOREVER.


Pre-Tokyo Update

We are 4 hours from departing for the airport, and 6.5 hours from taking off on our adventure to Tokyo. There are 7 of us from THF making this trek: Myself, Kyle Plumlee, Lindsey Cowan (McEachern), Mario Jimenez, Mackenzie Martindale, Machenzee Clevenger, and Kaitlyn Creel. We covet your prayers, and take comfort in knowing that the THF faithful will be praying for us daily.

I will be sending daily updates once we get into the swing of things. For most of our team, this is their first time to travel internationally, and even more of our team’s first time to Japan. I will try to make sure you hear from them, as well, about their experiences. Remember, though, that Tokyo is 14 hours ahead of Lubbock, so bear with us as we try to get the updates out for you to read during that same day.

The work we will be doing is a little different than our trips to closed
countries. In Japan, we can openly share The Good News, so I encourage you to forward our updates. However, for the security of our people on the ground in Tokyo, I will be intentionally leaving out details that might cause awkward situations for them.

One last thing, please help spread the word that there will not be our normal Youth Gatherings tonight or next Wednesday. On Wednesday, July 14, we will be taking a trip to Super Summer. Details are on the web site and at the youth table in the Mall. If students are interested, they need to e-mail me as we have limited space to transport students.

Thanks for all you do for the kingdom!
Youth Pastor, THF