Monday, December 19, 2011

Looking back & looking ahead...quick year in review...

2011 has been such an awesome year!  Over 500 students and participants have been trained and disciple here at YWAM Orlando and have gone out to over 6 countries on 4 continents to share the news of Jesus!
Our family was able to lead a team to London this summer where we were able to pour into the lives of 15 youth specifically and see God break their hearts for Him and create a fresh hunger and desire for the things of God.  We saw their broken image of God be put together again be healed and God’s true character and nature was once again revealed to them.
And most amazingly, on Tuesday we finally go a picture of our 8 month old son Paxton given to us!!  He is still in South Korea waiting for us to finalize the adoption; but we soon anticipate his arrival in 2012 to become a permanent part of our Family!!

We are so excited about all God is going to do in 2012!  We anticipate being able to train and disciple and send out over 1,000 young people all over the world.  We look forward to the completion of our adoption.  We anticipate the lives that will be reached with the Gospel to share eternity with Jesus!
We would love to enter this new year with all our ministry needs in place.  With airline tickets and training and some adoption expenses all expected this coming year, we need to have $1,000 raised by the end of 2011 to start 2012 off running!

Would you please consider a year end gift of $25 (or any amount) to help us meet our need?   

Should you choose to give, just click on the "Donate" link to the right and follow the instructions OR you can mail a check made payable to "YWAM" to the following: Andy & Rachel Miller; PO BOX 620487; Orlando, FL 32862

The Millers

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

the neXt wave...

Christmas.  Stockings.  Egg Nogg.  Baby Jesus.  Wise men.  Santa.  The Grinch.  Immanuel.  "Red Rider BB Guns." Cheap cinnamon donuts that taste like curry...  Probably all things I should be talking about @ this time of year, and yet I am distracted....Christmas is my favorite time of year, don’t get me wrong.  But something in me is burning and hungry for something greater than another Christmas carol. 
Last month, Rachel, Ty, and I and about 350 other YWAM missionaries gathered in Alabama for 5 days to seek and chase after God.  Crazy right?  We had a plan.  We had an agenda.  YWAM has had a sense that God is raising up a “wave” of 200,000 new missionaries to GO to the cities, countries, & nations of our planet to share the news of Jesus to those who have not heard.  Yet during this time, our agenda’s and plan’s went out the window, but God met us !  There were times when everyone in the room was dancing because we were encountering God.  There were other times when all of us found ourselves on our faces because we were so in awe of God and his character and nature.  Many, if not all of us, left with a renewed sense of passion and vision as to “why it is we do what we do…”  We came in with our plans and left with God’s plans.  Others came in with their vision and left with God’s vision for their life.  Us included.  I am hungry for God.  I have to have Him.  I have to be changed.  I am grateful for all he has done in me, but I am desperate to know Him and become more like Him.  I am desperate to get rid of my agenda to be known and to make my agenda be that Jesus is known.  Thank you so much for your part in this next wave!  Thank you for sending our family to help coordinate, plan and serve in different capacities of this 5 day conference.  We felt as though we had a part in shaping over 350 lives to closer hear God and obey his calling for their lives.  YOU therefore played a role in that!  Not only does your partnership affect us; but in 5 short days, YOU helped transform 350 people you’ve never met!  Thank you… & oh - Merry Christmas!!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Evangelicals, postmoderns & Kool-aid...

My family and I just got back from a mission to trip to London, England this past week.  My wife is not a huge fan of drinking "un-bottled" water.  That is not a bad thing; it's just the way it is.  Give her the option of a Coke or water from the tap & she will take the Coke every time.  Anyways, whenever she travels, she brings along little packs of Kool-aid, lemonade, Gatoraid, etc. to help with the challenge of drinking foreign water.  Well the water in England was amazing so we have like 50 packets of Kool-aid left over.  Every now and then I have been mixing in a cherry flavored packet into my water to I guess "relive" my childhoold memories.  Saturday, it was like 92 degrees and I mowed the lawn at mid day.  When I came in, I took a washed out apple sauce glass jar (like a 64 ounce one), filled it with water and stired in 2-3  packets of Kool-aid to get some flavor going.  After about 10 sips I had the thought, "this can't be good for me."  So I dumped it all out.  At the very bottom I discoverd an entire layer of pure white sugar.  It had just settled on the bottom (and to think parents in the 80's pretty much ran a medical IV into the arm of every child in America and pumped this sugar laced substance into our bodies; with of course a side of Kraft macaroni & cheeese).  Looks can be deciving.  Here I am drinking this beautiful iced red Kool-aid that looks and tastes somewhat refreshing.  Inside however, it contained the distortion of white sugar and red #5. 

If Christianity is supposed to be "water," then the view of Christianity in the current century is like Kool-aid.  Today's defenition of "true Christianity" involves conversations around: postmodernity, evangelicalism, orthodoxy, liberalism, right wing conservatives, calvanism, reformed, pre-trib vs. post trib rapture, etc.  All great for magazine articles, pod casts, Youtube, and conversations involving latte's.   But whatever happened to the simplicity of following Jesus.  I have done street evangelism; I get it; sometimes people ask broad and deep question and you need information to give them in response.  It makes us look like we know our stuff and that Christianity is the right choice.  But maybe that isn't the point.  Maybe it's not about knowing our "stuff."  Jesus really didn't debate theology.  He said things to the "theologians" like: repent, forgive, follow me, etc.  His message was simple and people could wrap their minds around it, and go out and apply it to their lives instantly. 

I just listened to a 16 minute pod cast, by a well known author and speaker.  He is actually a very good writter and he loves Jesus.  The message was about the present shift in Christianity today and the future shape of evangelicalism. - and I have absolutally no idea what he was talking about.  Jesus said things like, "Love your neighbor."  And, "deny yourself."  Simple and yet life altering.  Why have we gotten away from that?

According to sources, there are over 38,000 known Christian denominations.  If we researched each of them, they would have different creeds and interpretations of scriptures, and veiws on females in ministry and whether or not communion should consist of wine & bread OR grape juice & Saltines.  Not saying it is sin.  Just saying, maybe it taints the purity of Jesus just a little bit.  Maybe it confuses some people so much, they choose to go in another direction & don't consider Jesus at all.  Not because Jesus it difficult; but rather, that we as his followers, have made him confusing.

So again I ask - if following Jesus is supposed to be like driking pure refreshing water ("if you drink of Me, you will never thirst again"), why do we keep filling it with "impurities" like Kool-aid.  We argue about who is right and who is wrong; who is a heretic; whether angels have long hair or short hair; etc.  It's the same as taking a nice pure refreshing cup of cold water and dumping in sugar, yellow #5, yellow #6, and red 40...and sure, why not throw in a little sweet and low.  Drink it and it wont kill you, but it does tank the original purity of the water....

Are these denominations wrong?  No.  Are all these views and interpretations sin?  No.  But if we are not careful, we can taint the original purity of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

the rapture, billboards, & dirty tampons...

So this past weekend, the Rapture was supposed to happen.  As in the return of Jesus.  Apparently, it didn't happen.  Many people involved with the individual who claimed this return, spent their money and in some cases, their life savings on advertising and trying to "reach the lost."  Or at least warn us that they knew something that the rest of us didn't know.

Monday on Facebook, I saw a "counter active" billboard posted that said something like, "Awkward" with a scripture verse stating that none of us knows when Jesus will come back.  Basically, this person was saying to those who had warned us all about the rapture, "I got it right & you got it wrong."  And apparently those people got it "so wrong" that the whole world knows about it.  I even heard secular sports talk radio mocking their predictions...

This past year, a Christian came out with a book about a popular topic.  The topic of heaven & hell & the after life and what that might look like.  This topic would be popular in a religious context or in a non-religious context.  This Christian was rebuked, slandered and "black balled" from many Christian societies.

Interesting.  Two individuals who claim to follow Christ.  Two "campaigns" extremely opposed and "condemned" by many Christian societies.  We have mocked them.  We have ridiculed their statements and predictions and in some instances, condemned one of them to hell!

Huh.  I don't remember Jesus ever doing this?  I remember a time when a woman had been caught in the act of adultery and was dragged in front of Jesus.  They all stood around her in a circle with rocks in their hands; ready to stone her.  Jesus said not to.  They were in essence saying, "Look Jesus, we are better than her!  We don't have any problems or issues.  We are perfect."  They didn't exactly say that; but by their actions they were saying it. 

The prophet Isaiah made this statements, "We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags..."  Not our sin, but our righteousness is like filthy rags.  Those things we use to brag about and build up our walks with God.  Our consistent prayer lives and quiet times; our offerings, our service to the homeless, church attendance, etc.  They are all righteous things; but when we use them to put others down and lift ourselves up - they are filthy rags.  From the research I've examined, the translation of "fifthly rags" is the equivalent to "dirty [used] tampons."  Enough said.  I don't need to elaborate.  So when I come to God and reflect to Him and society how this person or that person is off in their theology or their interpretation of God and then go on to condemn them to hell; in THAT moment, all my righteous deeds, are pretty much just like dirty used tampons - disgusting and good for nothing but to be thrown in the trash.

Trust me, I am the first in line to claim that in the words of Paul, "I am the chief of all sinners....and the least of the apostles."  But these recent current events in our world, have caused me to examine my heart.  How often do I stand in my secret prayer closet of my heart and proclaim like the man in one of Jesus' stories, "...I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don't cheat, I don't sin, and I don't commit adultery. I'm certainly not like that tax collector!" 
Does any of this mean that we turn an eye to sin or wickedness or false prophecy, etc.  No, it just means that we don't pick up and cast the first stone.  We may need to be like Jesus was to the woman caught in adultery:  Yes, you committed adultery.  But I don't condemn you.  I forgive you.  Go and don't sin any more in this area. 

Can you; can I; drop our stones and reach down and pull up those who get it wrong?  Those who misinterpret what it looks like to follow Jesus and lead them after Him with love and not judgement and condemnation?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

...desire is irrelevant. I am a machine...

"...desire is irrelevant.  I am a machine..."

Apparently this is a quote by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie Terminator 3.  I haven't seen Terminator 3.  Actually, I didn't even know T3 existed!  I thought T2 was already pushing the envelope a bit....And apparently the ex-Governor was in an affair that his wife didn't know existed.  Well, maybe she did.  Maybe she didn't.  I think she did.  And apparently, unlike his statement in T3, desire IS relevant!

I am not here to kick Arnold & his wife.  I like Arnold.  God loves Arnold.  He was actually my Governor for 9 months of my life while I was a California resident.  However, there is a valuable lesson that we can learn form his life. 

The Bible says - "Be sure your sin will find you out..."  Arnold had a secret.  A hidden sin.  It probably started with a small thought.  A small plan.  A small idea.  A small lust.  Then it grew.  Though it was apparently "covered" for 10-11 years.  It eventually was discovered.  We all know about it.  The world knows about it.  He had a hidden sin.  No one knew of his affair.  It was a secret.  Covered.  Concealed.

Proverbs says, "Whoever covers over his sins does not prosper. Whoever confesses and abandons them receives compassion."  What would have been the result, if Arnold had a safe friend.  A place to share.  A place to confess and abandon his sins?  Had he a core group or friend where he could have said, "hey, I am having thoughts about this woman..."  His friends could have stepped in and rebuked him and helped him and maybe we would not be using him as an analogy today. 

What about me?  What about you?  Do you have any small secret sins?  Cheating on taxes?  Visiting web sites you know are not healthy?  Stealing pencils from work?  Small "white" lies - daily?  We have to expose these sins.  We have to confess and abandon them to others.  I am not suggesting you post it as your Facebook status.  That would be dumb.  But you need a friend or 2 that are safe.  That you can trust.  And you need to tell them.  Tell them about the thoughts you are having about the secretary at work.  Tell them about the inappropriate texts.  The inappropriate emails.  Tell them about the sodas you keep taking from the snack shack @ work.....whatever it is.  No matter how small the sin is in your eyes - you need to confess it.  You need to abandon it; because if you don't, your SIN WILL FIND YOU!  And it is a lot easier to deal with your sin in private with a small group of close friends than when things are full blown on a stage and the whole world is watching you try to escape from your sin...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

better than Jesus...

“It is better for you that I go away! You will be sad now, but your sadness will turn to joy. If I don’t go away you will be unable to receive my spirit. Don’t cling to me..." - Jesus

so there is 2 sides to this statement made by Jesus, prior to him leaving the earth.  if you had been following him around for the past 3 years or so, you are frustrated with him because he just spent all your time together talking about how he was "the way, the truth, and the life" and how we should all "cling" to him.  and "come follow him" etc...  and now he is saying, peace out...I gotta go...don't cling to me....?  and the other side of you is kind of curious to see what happens if he does leave.  this thought had to be in the mind of the disciples, "so Jesus, if you leave, it is better for me?  there is something in it for me?  ok - see ya later, you gotta go..."

according to scripture, Jesus was referring to the Holy Spirit.  I won't go to deep into this.  I believe in a "three in one" God.  I love God the Father, God the Son, & God the Holy Spirit.  but I am not going to try to explain the Holy Spirit....yet I want to compel us each to be open to the Holy Spirit moving in our lives.  i think many of us may have a "bad view" of the Holy Spirit, because our understanding of the Holy Spirit has been distorted by our experiences.  maybe we were a part of a church that used "the Spirit of God" as a way to control or manipulate people.  or maybe you were hurt by a spiritual leader who claimed to be "full of the Holy Ghost?"  Maybe you have seen too many main stream "moves of God" destroyed by broken marriages, sin, and deception?  whatever it is - we, myself included, shut down anything that may involve the Holy Spirit.  if that is so, I am wrong.  we are wrong.  we all in this day and age claim to be lovers of Jesus - but he said, "it is better if you don't cling to me" but rather allow my Holy Spirit to work in your life....

so where do we start?  I am not really sure, but Galatians 5 seems like a great place.  the writer refers to something called the "Fruit of the Spirit."  the idea that if God's Spirit is working in me fully - these things will be evident, "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfullnes, gentleness, and self control." 

the Bible says that when we give our lives to Christ, we are given his Spirit as a seal to keep us.  so if you follow Jesus, the Spirit of God is already living inside you.  i just encourage you to not hold anything back;  but to rather surrender yourself fully to the Holy Spirit, so that you can fully reflect the character and nature of God...

Monday, May 16, 2011

pop-tarts & porn...

here are some statistics for you:  43% of all Internet users view pornographic material; the U.S. spends $13.6 billion on porn; 85% of American pastors are "involved" with Internet porn...

no, this is not a talk about pornography.  it is a few thoughts on addictions.  most, if not all of us have addictions.  for some of us it is eating too many pop-tarts.  for others, it is pornography.  what is an addiction?  it is "the state of being enslaved to a habit."  sometimes those habits are sins (porn).  sometimes it is an unhealthy consumption of something good (pop-tarts).  but regardless of the habit, if it is unhealthy or it becomes unhealthy, it can pull us away from God, our family, our friends, responsibility, etc

when I was 18, I was addicted to sports.  i would come home from school and from 4pm - midnight I would watch football, basketball, sports center, etc.  maybe I would come out of seclusion to get food (my other addiction).  my grades suffered, my relationship with God suffered...all my relationships suffered.  when i recognized this, i had to destroy it.  so i fasted from sports for a while and killed the craving until i once again had a healthy balance. 

was sports a sin?  no.  was over indulgence?  yes.  it was my "god."  it had my time, my money, my focus, etc.  the God of the universe says to have no other gods except him.  so I had to fix that. 

what is your god?  who is your god?  you say Jesus?  ok, that is awesome.  but is there anything that gets more affection than him?  is there anything else that consumes your time, resources, emotions in an unhealthy way?  more than Jesus? 

don't make something up.  but if you say no, just continue to be on guard against the simplest of things...because even pop-tarts can become a god...