Wednesday, April 28, 2010

One of the Best Parts of Missions...

Missions has its hard times and its good times, but one of the reasons I was so grateful for my job over the past week is that a big part of what I do is focused on being a gift to others.

What a great occupation and job description: be a gift to others.

Not in a cocky sense like, "Hey, here is Brent Dongell with a bow tied around his head, isn't your life just that much better now?!?" haha

But in the sense that the reason I am sent to New Zealand is to be a gift from the US and wider body of Christ to the church and people of New Zealand with my time and finances. I get to go around and hopefully encourage and challenge people, be a listening ear, and give of my education, tithing, and extra spending money where i can and try and be a refresher to those around me.

Thanks to my friends, family, and supporting churches back home that make this a reality.

"...he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." Proverbs 11:25

but I also have definitely felt blessed on both sides of this coin as always. Where ever i have been giving, I always wonder whether I am giving or actually receiving back way more from those people than i have ever given them.

Monday, April 26, 2010

For those in a Waiting Season

I was reading and wanted to share the insights I gained.

When i was in the team building process for New Zealand, a friend wrote this on a paper and gave it to me. I have held on to this and it is pretty much the condensed version of the following book insert:

"Brent, you have heard God speak to you of Joshua 1, but before Joshua conquered the land he was known as a man who tarried long in the Lord’s presence (The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent Exodus 33:11). In the same manner, you must know this tarrying to know the conquering. 11/26/07 Brian Holda"

Others "...would describe their current place of service as an intermediate point in the career journey. It may be a stop that is fulfilling or long-lasting, but it is definitely not the destination of their dreams…

Psalm 37 is a special text for this season of waiting. It seems written just for second chairs who are struggling with the contentment-dreaming paradox. The first nine verses (particularly three through seven) are profound in their description of waiting on God: “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:3-7).

God has an important part in the waiting process and so do we. These parts go hand-in-hand. Our responsibility is to trust in the Lord, do good, dwell in the land, enjoy safe pasture (or cultivate faithfulness, as in the New American Standard), delight in the Lord, commit our way to the Lord, trust in Him, be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.

In a season of waiting, we have a lot to do! We are responsible to trust in Him and do good at every opportunity. In doing this, we can cultivate faithfulness wherever he has placed us. As we worship God, we are to commit our lives and ways to Him. These responsibilities are great reminders of how we should be living in faith if we truly trust God in our season of waiting on Him.

It appears that Joseph did exactly these things during his seasons of waiting. He believed God was ahead of him, working things out for His bigger, unseen purposes. Joseph chose to make the best of each situation, so he cultivated faithfulness everywhere he went. The Scripture shows that God was with Joseph, and we see that Joseph honored God with his actions, displaying his commitment and trust in the Lord.

It is easy to see our responsibility in this passage, but do we see the good part- God’s part? Do we see God’s response to our responsibility? Psalm 37:4 and 6 promise that god will give us the desires of our heart, make our righteousness shine like the dawn, and make the justice of our cause like the noonday sun.

Do we need to say anymore about God’s response in our seasons of waiting on Him? No matter how hard we try, manipulate, or jockey for position, we can never capture the desires of our heart or make the justice of our cause shine like the noonday sun. Simply stated, there are great advantages in choosing contentment and waiting on God. He will do what we cannot do, even in our greatest strength and effort. We are responsible for the waiting, trusting, and dwelling. He is responsible for the outcome…

We all go through seasons of waiting…Even if we are not waiting for God to move us somewhere else, we may have to wait for an organization that does not change quickly enough. How we respond while waiting tells us (and those around us) much about our faith. Two competing forces pull at us during these seasons: the pace of society and the grace of God.

The pace of society tells us we should always be on the lookout for the next opportunity, never staying in one place too long… the cruelest part of the clash between society’s pace and a season of waiting is the false hope that is often created… thankfully, God’s grace seeks to offset and overcome our impatience. In the challenging seasons of waiting, we have a unique opportunity to experience the grace of God at a whole new level… You might feel overwhelmed by your present circumstances. You feel you could abandon it all- your ministry, your faith, your church family, everything! You do not understand why you are in this prison experience or what you did to deserve it… Robin Smith, who has endured some difficult seasons of waiting, says he has often prayed, “God, I am asking today for the ability to cast all my cares on You.” (Leading From the Second Chair by Mike Bonem & Roger Patterson, 128-130)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

People's View of the US

It is interesting to see other people's opinion of the USA sometimes. A friend just sent me an article from BBC saying that the USA's popularity is rising again in the past few years from a rather negative place...
You can Read other stats and the Article Here

I know i may get slack for this opinion, but I guess my first reaction is a lethargic "what can you do?!" If you are a major world power and you have the third largest country by population i just don't think your odds are gonna be good that you are going to make everyone happy or not have a large group of people against you.

I also wonder from a theological point of view whether you would ever want to be in the majority or minority positive view point of the world's eyes.

Jesus says such contradictory statements about loving and serving everyone yet coming to take up sword and divide even close families at times, that i am not sure whether you could live out the gospel and be the most popular in the world.

just thinking out loud. now back to ground work.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

headed back to New Zealand

I'm signing off. Leaving for Auckland from Indianapolis at 6:15am Thursday Morning

Food I enjoyed in the USA

I tried to eat as much of the food i liked every meal i have been stateside the past week.

In New Zealand, people asked me if there was any food i missed from the USA, but i couldn't really think of it while i wasn't here. But now being back this is what i have eaten and missed.


Taco Bell's Cheesy Gordita Crunch

Kraft MacnCheese

Cinnamon Cheerios (any sugary cereal)

Al8 one (an ale only really sold in Kentucky)

Red Robin- California Chicken Sandwich

Chipotle- Burrito (i had meat even though this picture doesnt)

Bread Sticks, Cheese sauce, and polar pop for 32oz for $.63 (college favorite)

BW3’s- BBQ Buffalo Wings & BBQ Ribs (I love bbq sauce)

Ivanhoes- Ice Cream (a college spot)

American Hot Dog & Cheesy Potato Casserole (church potluck dinner)

Cinnamon Pop tarts

Bargs Root Beer (reminds me of root beer float called a spider in NZ)

Dairy Queen's Reese's Peanut Butter Blizzard

Pimento Cheese Sandwich (from North Carolina southern taste buds)

Jimmy Johns- Beach Sub (love guacamole)

Chic Fila Sandwich and Wedge Fries

Oreo Shake (shakes are so thick here they don't fit through the straws sometimes)

Arby’s Roast Beef Sandwich with Arby Sauce

Mom's Blue Berry Peach Coffee Cake with Milk (personal favorite)

Chips ahoy Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie (they are so soft!)

Gatorade & Big Gallons of Milk

Things I also enjoy that i Missed this trip:


Krispy Kreme

Carne Asada from a hole in the wall Mexican restaurant

Jen’s Cheesy Salsa Dip

Sunday, April 04, 2010

I Surfed with a Humpback Whale Yesterday!

You can check out a video and the article on the whale to get a better feel for what i saw.

I was sitting in the water on my board yesterday watching a whale flap his fins and spray water from his blowhole about 100 yards or less in front of me yesterday. Unreal.
I took a new California surfing friend who is visiting NZ out to Piha yesterday. The surf was small so we were hanging inside a little bit, then my friend pointed out a whale out behind the waves. I never got within probably 100 yards/meters of it.

Some of the surfers out back behind the break were paddling towards it and one surfer told me that he got within about 4 meters(10-15ft) from this whale as he came towards the cove and said he had a moment where he had no clue what he would do if it came towards him!

The whale headed back out to sea with the helicopter and lifeboats circling him after playing around for a goo 15 minutes around the beach.. Here once again is the video from the helicopter.

Crazy Good times. not sure that will ever happen again.

Friday, April 02, 2010

My Sketch from the Stations of the Cross

Title of the Piece: Crossed feelings
Station: Jesus Taking up the Cross
Scripture reference:
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…
Hebrews 12:2
What feelings must have Jesus experienced as he took up the Cross? And what similar emotions might we have experienced over this Easter Season? Four things specifically came to mind: Agony, Tears, Overwhelmed, and Joy.
AGONY (cringing eyebrow)
Jesus has been whipped and has a crown of thorns on by now. I know that Acts 8:33 says that as a lamb is silent being led to the slaughter, Jesus also did not open his mouth. Yet I have to wonder whether this meant he simply didn’t defend himself or whether even in the midst of all the torture he didn’t even make a noise. I still picture him screaming in agony at some point, but since I did not decide to have him yelling in the painting, I tried to show agony in the way his eyebrow formed.
TEARS (wet cheeks)
I have to also wonder whether Jesus cried. Would he be cried out at this point, too tough to cry, or were tears rolling down his face. I would like to think there were tears at some point. It could’ve been the physical pain or the pain of rejection or even the sorrow for these mistaken people, but I picture Jesus crying.
OVERWHELMED (bloody eyes)
I wonder whether he was tempted to give up. Even though Jesus didn’t sin, I still believe he could be tempted. As he picked up the cross and looked at the walk ahead of him, I wonder if the state of humanity or even the frustration of blood running into his eyes would be enough to just want to throw in the towel. Did Jesus, much like his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, ever think about not picking up his cross and just dying or asking for God’s intervention again?
JOY (smirking mouth)
Hebrews 12:2 says, “For the joy set before him he endured the cross.” I loved how in the film, “Passion of the Christ” Jesus has a flashback of a good times in his life as well as bad. I know he was in excruciating pain, but I have to wonder if there was ever a moment where he smirked or a small smile came across his face as he picked up the cross. Maybe he caught a glimpse of a disciple he loved dearly or maybe he thought about how the disciples actually being able to understand what he had said about picking up their cross so many times before, or maybe he thought for a moment to the Father, “We can do this.”
Have you experienced these emotions over the Easter season?

If you have been in pain over this Easter season,
There are stones lying around. Hold and squeeze one as hard as you can for as long as you need to express the stress you have experienced and know that God understands and has been through pain. He even promises for us to come out glorious on the other side.
For this reason [Jesus] had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.
Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:17-18
If you have shed tears over this Easter season,
There is a jar and a bowl. You can pour the water in the bowl or dip your finger in the water and run your finder down your cheek like a tear and know that Jesus cried during this season as well.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.
And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
If you have experienced joy over this Easter season,
Take a piece of paper or card. Write a note to yourself or someone with a verse, story, or thought that has brought you joy in this season. Be amazed at how Jesus would’ve encapsulated all these actions below as he picked up his cross:
Be joyful always, Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances...
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
If you have been overwhelmed over the Easter season,
There are paper, pens, and a trashcan. Write down all that is overwhelming you, tear it up and throw it in the trash, to express how you have felt throwing in the towel in the past little bit and be encouraged.
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Will you pray for the youth of new zealand

My friend Kris put a video together about youth and some of the NZ statistics that is pretty cool. You should check it out on his blog.