Saturday, June 30, 2007

A Prayer that was a blessing to me...

[I woke up from my nap today. The room was dark and quiet, not spooky, just still. It seemed neutral, not threatening nor depressing nor motivating, but i felt like in my time of thought, that it was a space that needed to be claimed. I prayed...]

Lord, help this to be a place of complete comfort and peace.
Also help this to be a place where i am challenged and pushed.
Lord help this to be a place where everything that is your presence IS...

It was a short but powerful and meaningful prayer in my life. I realized afterwards, that i had asked for God and the fullness of his kingdom to reign in what i did(don't have time to look up kingdom of God verses and what it stands for, but I wish i did). I hope this prayer is another that way you will be able to ask God into your life and area of living if needed.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Thank You God....

For giving me today to live....
it means you have purpose for me
it means i have a chance to choose to follow you
It means i have a chance to live out the dreams, passions, loves, desires you have put in me
It means i have a chance to enjoy being warm in my blankets, to feel the cool rain on my face, to smile when i don't have to, to love those so familiar adn good to me.
thank you God

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I am an Uncle!!!!

I am ashamed i haven't posted on this yet! Jen had their baby! For anyone who is connected to me that may not be to them, Jaylon Christian Bruce was born on Tuesday, June 19, 2007 at 6:10am
Weight: 8 lbs. 6 oz.
Length: 20 1/4 inches

This is Jen and Brandon's first child and the first grandchild in our family!

Mom and dad have spent the week with them and i will be home in the US in less than three weeks to meet the newest addition of our family!!! Yea!!!

The best comment i heard Jen and Brandon make so far is that it sleeps in the day and is up at nights... hahaha. No sleep for them, but it sounds to me like Jaylon maturing so quickly that he is already ready for college life!!!

for more details check out Brandon and Jen's Blog(Click Here).

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Today is dedicated to my calling and return to New Zealand. i meet with Jeff Fussner and Josh Bowlin today to discuss some of these issues and will spend the rest of the day in prayer and reading. Your prayer support is huge and appreciated today!
I have to report to the Wesleyan church what is going on in my life and ministry on a regular basis. here is a big recap of my ministry over the past few months that i just emailed to them if you are interested.

My 6 month journey to New Zealand is coming to a close. My flight heads back to the US July 14. It has been a full and amazing time for me in New Zealand. I am currently looking to return to the US to raise money for another 2 year commitment of ministry to the Wesleyan Church in New Zealand through Global Partners. I have been actively shaping what my role would look like in the local churches of New Zealand and the national Wesleyan church. I have met with Jeff Fussner(Pacific Wesleyan District Superintendent) multiple times, Richard Waugh(Director of Wesleyan Methodist Church), and other local church pastors and youth pastors including Brett Jones(Cession Community), Josh Bowlin(Global Partners Missionary at Papakura), Geoff Davies(Wesleyan NZ Youth Coordinator) and Mike Yates(ShoreGrace ) to discuss what this might look like. I have a passion especially for young adults and singles who are searching for community. It is also a personal need, but it has been a desire and calling for awhile to pursue what it might look like for me to work in an active role with young adults. This would include planning activities, resourcing churches, mentoring, and helping to form small groups where needed. But that is all future planning and looking ahead and dreaming. I still have a love for youth and the church as a whole. I think i will always be a senior pastor at heart. I have just found that single young adults have especially been on my heart for the past few years and i have not taken the steps to pursue that calling until this time. But enough about my future. What has happened. My time in New Zealand has been amazing and full. I did not understand the momentous task i undertook coming over and basically working in a bi-vocational position. Between work, youth, church involvement, travel, and other friendships my life has been nonstop! Below is a loose schedule of what my life looked like with the church. I took 4 1/2 weeks off to travel over the last 3 months. 2 weeks to travel the South Island of New Zealand and 2 1/2 to travel Australia. I attended church during those travel times including an Anglican service and a night service at Hillsong in Australia. Both were very memorable experiences. I will Highlight the special events during these last three months before the calendar since there is a lot there. Also, i arrived in New Zealand December 30 2006 and have devoted myself to ShoreGrace until i leave July 14, 2007. My role at ShoreGrace has been a completely volunteer role and i have loved every minute of being able to give myself without asking for anything in return.

The Laundromat was our teen formed bible study inspired by the first NZ Wesleyan youth camp. A few of the teens started to meet together to share their life experiences and issues. The name came from the idea of clothes rubbing against each other to become clean. This became small group that discussed different issues while being led by a chapter they had read collectively in the Bible each week starting with James. A lot of prayer and good conversations came from this.

Camping Trip:
Me and two other girl volunteers were able to take 6 teens camping for a weekend. Everything that went wrong could including a van breaking down, not making it out to the intended camp ground, and one of the biggest guy tents blowing over and getting a whole in it on a rainy night. God redeemed it though. A few of the teens commented it was an amazing weekend. During this time we were able to pray together and look especially at priorities and where our focus should be. The conversation centered around the question: "what would you do if you were given only 24 hours to live?"

Wesleyan Wide Capture the Flag:
I was able to coordinate a Capture the Flag night with the help of Geoff Davies and Josh Bowlin. This incorporated 4 of the different Wesleyan churches, 50 teens, and young adults from the different churches who helped make the event run smoothly. It was a fun night to connect a few of the different churches!

Church Visitation:
Since our service was on Sunday nights, i took the teens in pairs and dropped them off at different churches for a Sunday morning service. They were given the option of going to the main service or teen service. Afterwards we regrouped and discussed what it was like being the outsider, what they learned, and how that church best showed them the love of Christ as visitors(the answer being those who were the most hospitable and welcoming)

Youth Band:
With the help of my travel companion Dan who is great at the drums and been involved in many worship bands, we have been able to group the teens together and help them practice and start to teach them what it means to lead worship through music. It has been a good time to teach the teens a skill while teaching them valuable lessons about leading worship and stretching them to be on stage in front of the church and their families to lead.

I have absolutely loved my down time. I have been especially blessed to have time to journal, search, explore, and find God through this time in my life. I have been working out a lot of my personal views, personal calling, and what it means to be God focused on the things that are unseen and don't perish (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Film Project:
Sooner or later you are bound to have ideas that flop. This film project was one of those. The teens casually got together to put 10 minute short films together for a showing on a Friday night, but the task ended up being too big. It could've been the size of the task, lack of coordinated, or the teens being too busy but time was spent with the teens and lessons were learned in the process!

Random Conversations:
I had one teen from work say she believed in God after i had talked to her and am in the process of following up. Had another non-Christian worker call and want to talk because he had an encounter with the Lord. I have had conversations with many people at the restaurant i worked at for 4 months as well. There have been miracles, conversations, and truth spoken in to people's lives!

Facilitated Laundromat- (Wednesday Night Bible Study)
Planned and Led Fusion- (Friday Night Teen Meetings)
ShoreGrace Picnic with teens
3 Day Camping Trip
Movie Project(last effort)
Youth Sunday- Youth band and spoke
Teen Church Visitation on Sunday Morning

Facilitated Laundromat- (Wednesday Night Bible Study)
Planned and Led Fusion- (Friday Night Teen Meetings)
Traveled South Island for two weeks
A lot of Journaling and sermon preparation
Preached on Sunday Service
Continued to plan weekly Sunday night discussions for teen breakout.

Wesleyan Wide Capture the Flag!
Led Worship for two weeks straight.
Planned and led youth band
Discipleship as i met and talked with some of the teen leaders on a casual basis
Support of Teens through Sports games- rugby, soccer, etc.

Youth Movie Night
Supporting Teens Sporting Events
Preparing adult leaders as i prepare to leave
Visited annual Wesleyan Family Camp in Taupo
Took two and a half weeks to travel Australia
Planning and beginning to plan what it will look like for me to return.
Teaching on Sundays
Meeting with different pastors discussing return.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Catching up

i have found myself over the past week:

Sleeping a lot
Driving extra slow since i have nowhere i have to be
Just talking to people
Appreciating People in my life
Putting on more music in the background

I am not sure if my body is catching up from jetlag, if i am still in vacation mode from australia, or whether my body is saying that it is just trying to catch up from the last 6 months in New Zealand. It is not depressed, it is good and relaxed. It is me saying i am rested and ready to take on the world again... i just have to get myself up and moving to do it! hahaha. it will be a crazy few weeks figuring out life. I have 3 weeks left in New Zealand before i head back to the US indefinitely until i return to New Zealand which is the plan.

The next two blogs over this week will be:
How God has moved over the past month
Aussie Pictures

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Funniest Video from Australia

We constantly passed big fields of high bush and sugar cane. My natural instince has been to want to run through these big fields. I had been advised that a lot of snakes live in these fields but as we stopped for sugar cane, i had to give it on a go. I sacrifices my flip flops and put on shoes as an extra safety precaution and here is what came of it!!!

The trip was amazing! I will be posting a lot more pictures in the next few days when i get some time. I am off to a work meeting tonight and working out youth and life details over the next week. your prayers are appreciated!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Study Thoughts on John 2 & 3

John 3 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. I have had some time to relax and think and have repeatedly read through John 3 on this Aussie trip. These were a few of my insights, thoughts, and questions that came up as i read over the chapters this morning. Dan just flew back to the US. It is crazy to think that i will be doing the same in less than a month.

John 2
When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
2:3 Did Mary just have faith or had she already seen Jesus do miracles and know what he was capable of inside their family life? Was this his first miracle or his first public miracle?

And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple,
2:15 He made a whip! This had to have been somewhat premeditated. To form a whip that is capable of holding up while kicking everyone out would take at least enough time for the disciples to say, "uhhh, Jesus what are you doing?" if not even more time that Jesus had watched the temple and then decided to take action.

John 3
2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.
3:2-3 You know that i am from God, but you do not believe or truly see that i am from God. You're response in v4-8 prove it.

5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
5-8 It is not just a flesh thing where you are born into the Israelites/Jewish community but it is a choice of the spirit!

You are Israel's teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven–the Son of Man.
10-13 I, the son of man, have come from heaven and i am telling you these things yet you do not believe them or are not capable of understanding them. How am i supposed to go beyond physical earthly explanations and to explain the things of God, heaven, and beyond this world if we cannot start there?

14Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
14-15 Interesting, very interesting that a SNAKE is used to redeem the Israelites and that Jesus being raised up is compared to a snake. It is almost as if it is saying the things that were not intended to be this way will be restored and not only will they be restored, but they will save and redeem many through their lives. The SNAKE, the tempter of man and his downfall, the snake that was killing people around the camp, is what they had to look to to be saved? The MAN, the son of man who lived in this world and was killed, the one who was a disappointment and joke to so many as a Jewish king, is what they had to look up to on the cross and be saved?

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
16-17 God sent his Son as life to those who were searching to find Him! God did not send him to make more rules, but to show the world Himself! To save not to condemn. To open eyes, not to blind and kill.

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
18-21 If you can't see God in Jesus who is God walking among Man then there really is no hope for you! I am not sure it is saying those who did not know Jesus cannot know God as much as it is saying, "If you can't see God in Jesus, God on earth!, then there really is little hope for you to find him elsewhere when everything that is God is right in front of your face through his teachings and life. It is as if, if you didn't have any excuse before Jesus, there is really no excuse at all why you have any excuse to say you don't see God or how to be save afterwards! What is more the problem is not Jesus, but that those who are in the darkness and have evil deeds will fear the Lord. Those of the light will embrace it and love it.

21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
27 To this John replied, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven.
30 He must become greater; I must become less.

3:21, 27, 30 are three of my favorite verses in how i choose to live my life!
What does the argument over ceremonial washing have to do with people going to Jesus instead?

To this John replied, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ [fn10] but am sent ahead of him.’ 29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 30 He must become greater; I must become less.31 “The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 33 The man who has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. 34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God [fn11] gives the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him.”
John 3:27-36 I want to memorize! One of my favorite answers given by anyone in the Bible!

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Austalia Trip Recap!

I Just sent off Dan, Trace, and Adam yesterday from the Brisbanne Airport in Australia. Sad days as the trip comes to a close. I am here in Australia until Thursday just hanging out with Tash, Hayley, and Sue (relatives of Jan Mackay back in New Zealand). It was a crazy emotional day yesterday, as i sent off my two great friends back to San Diego and my companion and traveling partner at the close of his whole New Zealand/Australia trip and journey. The two girls in these pictures are Hayley to the right and Tash to the left. They came along on the trip to Cairns)the Great Barrier Reef.

I will post more pictures when i get back to New Zealand end of this week
Jen(my sister) is supposed to have her baby this week!!!! Crazy Tuesday is the day she will go into induced labor!!!

Below is a recap of the last three weeks with Trace and Adam visiting. I just copy and pasted the memories from what i had typed up for the guys so it may not all make sense but you will get the point.

Monday- Thursday 18-21
Retreat and relax in Brisbanne, Australia

Sunday 17- Going Home
Send Trace and Adam off to L.A.
Hangout with Dan
Send Dan off to Michigan
Went to Church and Crashed

Saturday 16- Byron Bay
Had an amazing breakfast
Surfed and hungout at Byron Bay with Sue
Shopped til we dropped in Byron Bay
Gelati ice cream
Tash and Brent saw rings of Saturn
Ate Tim Tams and Hot Chocolate
Watched Starsky & Hutch, rugby, & Cars

Friday 15-Arriving & Skating
Failed attempt to see sunrise
Sign Picture Taking with Tash and Brent
Cairns trip came to an end
Hayley and Brent went for a Run
Rugby and Frisbee in Field
Went skating with Tash and youth Group
Played Yeehah!!! at Maccas
Watched Cars
Had Tim Tams w/ Hot Chocolate

Thursday 14- Driving Back
Best Campervan Switch of our Lives!!!
Drove from Cairns
2 Dance Parties in the Campervan
Sugarcane Stop
Green Tree Frog Find

Wednesday 13- Great Barrier Reef in Cairns
Snorkeled and Scuba'd Great Barrier Reef
When Sea Sickness goes bad
Touched Sea Turtles!
Cuzzi Time at Cairns International Hotel
and 1st Hot Shower!
Watched State of Origin at Courtside Hotel and Restaraunt
Stayed in Shenannigan's janky hotel
Dan and Hayley played and walked
Trace Roamed
Adam and Tash had Deep Talks(DNM)

Tuesday 12- Drive to Cairns
Climbing Trees & Sort of watched sunrise
Ice Cream stop by the pond
Planned snorkeling and hungout
Trace spanking, cracking coconuts, and fly tomato sauce
Sunset Detour to Airlie Beach
Dock jumping(Hayley's poor landing abilities), watching sunset, and weird guys bathroom
Kicked the Rugby Ball around and guy yelled at us
Drove and finished in Cairns
Brent pulled allnighter

Monday 11- Road Trip to Cairns
Met Tash, Hayley, Sue, family, and friends
Dinner together
Packed and started road trip in the Toyota 4WD
Gas stop of throw up with Adam and Hayley
Car sickness and first conversations together

Sunday 10- Surfing Coogee and Hillsong
Surfed at Coogee
Went into Natural Rock Pool
Hillsong at Night
Welcome Conversations upstairs afterward
Drive to Brisbanne

Saturday 9- Black Seeds Concert
Art Museum
Dancing at the Black Seeds Concert
Downtown Pictures under the Bridge

Friday 8- AFL Game & Aleesha Hangout
Said farewell to Balnarring family
Switched Campervans
Walked around Melbourne and square
AFL game!
Met up with Aleesha and Friends downtown

Thursday 7- Great Ocean Road, Kangaroos, & Koalas
Great Ocean Road Trip
Chased Kangaroos on the golf course
Stopped in Surf City
Hiked to waterfall
Koala Watching along the Road
Twelve Apostles at Sunset
walked out to edge of the rocks
The Waves were HUGE

Wednesday 6- Belle's Beach & Melbourne Downtown
Surfed Belle's Beach
Went to Crown's Casino(World's coolest hotel)
Trace Riding the Pony arcade
Shopping at Surf Shop

Tuesday 5- Flying to Australia
Tried to sell car
Downtown Shopping
Flew to Melbourne, Australia
figured out car rental
met Roni, Terri, and Monica in Balnarring

Monday 4- Pictionary & Family Dinner
PS2, Pack, Hangout Day
Sausage and Sauce Dinner with Family
Pictionary and Hangout

Sunday 3- Wesleyan Camp in Taupo
Went to Wesleyan Family Camp in Taupo
Hungout with the crew at bungee jump and Huka Falls
Dinner and Krumping(dancing) with Tongan Youth

Saturday 2- All Black's Game
Tried Veggiemite
Reuben and Tom's soccer games
Tried Pavolova dessert for the first time
All Black's Game

Friday 1- Raglan & Billy
Surfed Raglan in the Morning
Fish n Chips for lunch
Barnacle fight in afternoon
Crazy Drive up the bumpy dirt road
Chased Cows and Sheep (Billy)

Thursday 31- Surfing Bethel's
Slept in
Went Back Downtown to All Black's Store
Surfed at Bethel's until dark
glow worms in cave
Tried first takeaway fish n chips/LnP/Pineapple Lumps

Wednesday 30-Rangitoto and Yates
Kayak and hiked Mount. Rangitoto (Auckland's volcano)
Lamb Dinner at the Yates' House
First Tim Tam experience

Tuesday 29- Arrival and Movie
One Tree Hill
Walk around Downtown
Breakfast at McDonald's with McCafe
Sam's Rugby Game (adam hurts ankle)
Pirates of the Caribbean 3@ World's Largest Movie Theater

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

We Made It!

We are in Melbourne today. We are staying with Gorton, friends of friends of my family back in Indiana. Will Be in Sydney for Hillsong on Sunday and up to Brisbanne to drop off a car Monday. We plan to get up to the Great Barrier Reef after that and get back to Brisbanne to enjoy and fly out on Sunday July 17. This will be my last post for the trip. Once again your prayers for the relationships, conversations, and safety are HIGHLY appreciated!

Thought for the Day:
God GAVE me today to...
grow in my relationships with these guys
grow closer to his truth through conversation and being in his nature
love those in my realm of influence today
glorify him by using the gifts and abilities he has given me to enjoy and for his purposes
spread himself in Australia while i am here
enjoy his creativity and beauty through the ability he has given me to have sight
make God a priority by searching for Him and His wisdom as a priceless hidden treasure

Monday, June 04, 2007

Australia Here we Come!

Dan, Trace, Adam, and I all head out today on my birthday to fly into Melbourne!
Yep, you heard me right, Dan is IN!!! He was contemplating going home early, but here he is, packing and ready to go!

Australia(Southeast Coast) to drive up the East Coast of Australia! We will get a campervan and stay with friends along the way. I will most likely not post while on the trip but when i return on June 21 i am sure i will have plenty of thoughts and pictures to share!

Your prayers are appreciated as there are way too many accident prone guys one small campervan with a lot of poisonous animals around us all at the same time! Sounds like an adventure!

The Great Barrier Reef, go to Black Seeds (reggae band) concert, visit Hillsongs on Sunday, maybe an Australian rugby game(AFL) in Melbourne, surf the coast, and make some friends along the way! Sounds good to me!

The boys fly out June 17(Sun) and i take a few extra days to relax in Australia and fly back to New Zealand until June 21.

Wesleyan Camp

I am tired.... I have run the guys around and been a pretty good tour guide if i do say so myself!... but i am tIRED!

We have went everywhere
Done everything
And might sell the car tomorrow in the process!
We went to the All-Blacks Game on Saturday night! The Haka was amazing! I will try and post a video of it later.

Trace, Adam and i were able to go the the Wesleyan Family Camp Yesterday as well! It was so good to be together with the family worshiping and to see so many friends coming together. That has been an amazing time for many of the churches and people who have attended the camp in the Wesleyan church. I always walk away so encouraged by the body of Christ!
Us with the Yates' Family. (Mike Yates is thepastor of shoregrace where i help at)
During some free time we were able to check out the falls with some of the group(picture above)

Friday, June 01, 2007

I Love...

People who LOVE talking about God and the Bible!
Trace, Dan, Adam, and i got into a huge discussion about the Bible and who God is and just started bouncing ideas off of it and it was SO good!
We went surfing in Raglan yesterday
Raglan is one of New Zealand's top surf spots
We went and looked over the amazing grass cliffs that go into the ocean at the end of the day and even made friends with a sheep!
At the end of the conversation, the thing i walked away so grateful for was this...
God does not tempt. He may test us to give us a chance to prove ourselves and solidify our decisions, but he would never cause us or try to make us choose something that is not true, loving, good, just, faithful... of HIM! I can love and trust that kinda Guy!!!