Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

Running the race



Hebrews 12:1-2 states, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

About 18 months ago I had the privilege and joy of being one of the leaders on a BFA sponsored mission trip to Nairobi, Kenya. This verse from Hebrews served as our theme verse, and the verse in which we dove into on a nightly basis. I remember choosing this verse as our theme because I knew we were going to Kenya, a country that continually produces phenomenal marathon runners. I know my rational isn't very deep or profound, but this verse mentions running a race, and Kenyans run, so it all seemed to fit in my mind. Throughout our time in Kenya this verse pounded hearts and was used to transform lives. I am amazed at how God used my bizarre rational, to do amazing things.
The verse in Hebrews is special to me because it reminds me of our time in Kenya, but it also gives me such encouragement and passion. The verse seemed to be on my mind and heart constantly over the past week, as I recently ran a marathon.

The author begins by painting a picture of us being surrounded by witnesses. The witnesses are not there to mock us, ridicule us, demean us, rather they are there to encourage, uplift, cheer, comfort, and energize us.
This verse was made real to me during my recent race. My dorm brought down three vans of guys, Palmgarten (a female dorm at BFA) also brought down students, and other individuals from the community lined the street during the race.
Prior to the race I knew the Sonne guys were going to meet me at KM 32, and then at the finish line. Honestly, around KM 28 I started to feel a little tired, and wanted to slow down. Yet in my mind I knew I would soon see my guys, and I couldn't give up before I saw them. I couldn't stop running, I needed to keep going. So for 4 KM's I was driven by the excitement and anticipation of seeing the guys. I saw them at KM 32, and knew there was a chance I would see another group at Km 35. So for that whole stretch I was energized, excited, and encouraged by those that were cheering me on. I was lifted up by seeing a group of people who knew be my name, and had made an adventure to come and cheer me on. In my mind I said, "They came to meet me, and be there for me." This was extremely uplifting and provided much needed energy. By the time I reached the end of my "cheering section" I had a mere 5 KM left in the race. From KM 28-35 I was carried by the love and encouragement from these people.

When I came to the 40 KM marker I knew I only had 2 KM left, and could start to hear the crowd at the finish line. My legs were tired, my body was hurting, but I could hear people cheering, so I kept going. As I came into the final stretch I saw my guys lining up. They were in a long line stretching out their hands for high-fives. They refreshed me, they encouraged me, they spurred me on.

Having just run a race I know the difference a crowd of witnesses can make.
I hope that you will take some time to consider those around you who are also running races. Whether it be a coworker, a spouse, a family member. Take a moment and figure out how you can encourage them, refresh them, strengthen them in their race.
You see, it is a great thing knowing that I am running a race and I have a cloud of witnesses surrounding me who are there to cheer me on. But the greatest part of all this, is that I get to be that witness and that encourager for other people while they are running their race.

My cloud of witnesses for the race...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Student's perspective

It is hard to believe I am here on another Thursday, posting a blog. It seems as though the days are going by too fast.
As promised, I had a student sit down at my computer for a little and write down some thoughts regarding his experience here at BFA, and Sonne. It was entertaining trying to give him a direction to head in, because I really didn't have any specifics I wanted him to cover. Yet I think he did a great job, and I hope you are blessed and encouraged by what he has to say.
Just so you can create an image of who Paul is, here is a goofy picture I took of him one day while he was out playing soccer...


Hi my name is Paul Park. I am a Korean and my parents currently serve in China. I am a junior in High school and this is my second year at BFA and the Sonne dorm. Living in the dorm with 20 other guys is pretty bizarre. We do the craziest and the stupidest things. It is fun to get hyper and do some wild things, but it is also fun to get to know the other guys in the dorm more in depths. A few of the guys in our dorm and I come together almost every evening and share with each other how things are going and what God is doing in our lives.

I remember being really shy and keeping a lot to myself when I first came to the dorm. I remember being scared to show others my true self. I also remember the first impression I had on the guys. I’ve lived in the states for 4 years, so seeing or living with non-Asians wasn’t a very big deal. But because there were so many different people from different cultures, I remember being slightly confused in how to act in front of them. Fortunately, all the guys in the dorm were welcoming and it was really cool because they were not mocking my culture but rather trying to understand it. Throughout the year, I began to show more of myself little by little. By the end of last year, I was a totally different person.

When I returned this year, I heard many people tell me “you’ve changed a lot.” It’s crazy because I saw myself doing things that I would have never done before, and unbelievably, I have the privilege of serving in Chapel Band this year, which I would have never dared to do before. In my opinion, I believe it was the dorm that really got me out of my bubble. The welcoming attitude, the willingness to understand, and the fellowship I’ve experienced in the dorm has made in to a new person. I am hoping that I will display the same characteristics this dorm has shown me to the new kids that recently joined our dorm. I am looking forward to a great year with them in our dorm, and I hope that they will come out of their bubble and change (in a good way) like I did.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Little Moments

I have a few brief "advertisements" before I post what is on my heart.
- Next week one of my students is going to put up a post. I asked him to do one for today, but didn't give him enough time. I hope you look forward to hearing from him, and if you have any specific topics/questions for him, please feel free to email me.
- Starting September 13, our school will begin our, 'Spiritual Emphasis Week.' Please keep this time in your thoughts and prayers, as the chaplain's department lays the spiritual foundation for the school year.
- I am running a marathon on September 12 in Basel, Switzerland. I have been training for close to three and a half months now, and am excited to run, but also excited to get it over with and be done with the training. It is difficult trying to train with all the craziness that being in the dorm brings, but I have set a goal of 3 hours and 30 minutes (10 minutes faster than my first marathon). There are going to be a lot of hills, so we'll see how I do!

Yesterday the RAs from all eight dorms got together for a meeting, and we concluded by breaking into smaller groups to pray together. As my group was praying I was really challenged, and my heart was hit hard. I felt as though I have been spending too much time focusing on the worries of the day, the small things that get me down, the stresses that tire me out. My mind far too quickly ventures to think of those things, while I neglect to enjoy the blessings, the laughter, the joys that come my way.
I prayed that God would enable me to have the heart and eyes to see the many blessings He pours out on a daily basis. My prayer was that I would focus on the little moments that melt the stress away, the moments that leave my stomach hurting from laughter, the moments that captivate my heart and make me feel purposeful.
This was my prayer in the afternoon, and by evening these are the little moments where I saw that prayer answered...

- Shortly after dinner a bunch of guys were finishing their gratis (chore) and somehow gathered in the kitchen. It is not uncommon to hear loud music playing, and last night it was none other than Taylor Swift. As I walked in, six or seven guys were huddled around the stove singing at the top of their lungs, complete with motions and dancing. I stood and watched, then joined in. I couldn't help but enjoy the moment of singing and dancing with the guys.
- This morning I made french toast for the guys, so last night I made homemade syrup (side note: Here in Germany syrup is not easy to buy, and is probably around $5-7 a bottle...not cheap!) and as I was transporting the syrup from the stove pot to the pitcher, I splattered a bunch of syrup on the white shirt I was wearing. Not a pretty sight.
A senior was in the kitchen with me and witnessed the blunder. After the initial moments of pure laughter, he came to the sink and started to sprinkle water on me attempting to help clean everything off. After a few minutes I had a lot more water on my shirt, and about the same amount of syrup. However, the annoyance of the spill was gone, and the enjoyment of an amusing scene took its place.
- Shortly before rounding up my guys for bedtime, one of the juniors came to me and invited me into his room. In the room were six or seven other guys, and the purpose of the gathering was to sing some praise and worship songs, and read encouraging scriptures to one another. It brought peace and comfort, and great excitement to see these guys willingly seek to enrich their relationship with Jesus.

Singing. Dancing. Splattering. Worshiping. Little moments. Blessings.

Love,
Tommy


Here is a scene from the dance party


Sonne dorm dad (Marty) is in the middle of this shot chasing students after being creeked in celebration of his birthday.


This has nothing to do with the dorm, simply one of my favorite pictures I took over the summer.