GenSend 2014

Howdy!

I am writing from the grand ol’ state of Utah. I am here with the North American Mission Board, and myself and 30 others are working with church planters in the area. I know that many people who had asked if I was going to blog about my trip here. At first, I did not think so, but now I think I will. I want to keep y’all updated, especially since so many of you are praying for me and my team.

I am currently in Ogden, Utah. I got here Monday afternoon, and it has been great so far. This week is a very chill week. It is a lot of orientation meetings, crash courses in Mormonism, and just meeting the 30 people we are going to be doing life with for the next six weeks. We are living in apartments at Weber State, and they are surprisingly, very nice! As silly as this sounds, I have my own room, and that is a HUGE praise. I am living with two other girls from A&M, and they are wonderful as well. I guess I should explain who all is here.

Ok, there are 4 groups (we’ll call them conferences just to not get confused by the other teams we’re divided into). Conference 1 is Emily’s group from Texas A&M–my group. There are nine of us excluding Emily. Emily has been here for a month with the other three conference leaders to scout out the lay of the land for us. The second is Brittany’s from Wichita Falls. The third is Andrew’s from Louisville, KN. And lastly, Brian’s, and his team is from all over the states. Total there are 34 of us.

Yesterday my A&M team and the Wichita Falls team went hiking. Let’s just say that the view was a little different then Texas. It was gorgeous. So, that was a fun adventure for us to get to know each other. The altitude was killer. I seriously felt like I had played like 3 hours of basketball with as hard as I was breathing. Anyway, that was yesterday morning and afternoon. Last night, all 34 of us had dinner and an orientation meeting.

NAMB’s mission for us is to get experience in ministry by doing it. They want to bring up a generation to live missionally at all times. We found out that we are going to be working with the few evangelical church plants in the area and serving alongside them. This is NAMB’s first year to do GenSend (our student trips) this way, so we are the guinea pigs. Total there are about 200 students in different cities around the states that have the lowest evangelical percentages. Salt Lake City has a 2.8%. Since we are the guinea pigs, a lot of things are up in the air. We have to be incredibly flexible, but I know it is going to be awesome.

Last night, we also got divided into teams that we are going to be working with for the rest of the trip. I am in a team of 6 with only one other person from A&M. As my team got to know each other last night, it is evident God has put us together. Personalities are meshing, and it was just a very sweet time. This is my team that I am going to be working alongside at the different church plants, starting in a couple weeks.

A couple weeks you ask. Yes. Friday, all of us are going to Provo. This is a town south of Salt Lake City which is 99% mormon. We are going to be staying at a church/camping out. Yes, camping out. The 4th of July parade is huge here. Apparently over 100,000 people camp out along the streets just to get a good spot for the parade. So, where the people are, there we are going to be. I am very nervous, but really excited about this experience.

A few things y’all can be praying for is unity among our conferences and teams. Also, that we would be bold, yet tactful. Mormon beliefs are very similar to Christian, but not in a lot of ways. We need to know how to approach subjects without attacking them. Another would be for all of us to just stay at His feet. This is going to be a taxing trip in all areas–spiritually, physically, and emotionally–and I greatly appreciate y’all’s support and prayers.

Thank you again for praying and being a part of this journey with me! I will keep you updated.

Thanks and Gig ’em

Kish

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A Rose by Any Other Name…

This is my first time to ever write my thoughts for all to see. I am sure that since it is the “New Year” most blogs and posts have been about resolutions and change and bucket lists and such. This is not one of those posts, in a sense. However, I have been thinking a lot, and the more I think, the more consciousness and the desire to articulate what I call “a thought” fascinate me! Languages. Words. Definitions. They are amazing.

At first, I did not understand why I had suddenly become so intrigued by words and definitions, but then I read one of the first devotionals of the year in My Utmost for His Highest. Not only did the devotional—the significance I will explain shortly—but the sermon I heard this Sunday both enlightened me to why I have been so focused on what words really are. Here’s where my thoughts may get a bit jumbled, but hang with me.

First and foremost, I need to address what a word is. A word, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is “a sound or combination of sounds that has a meaning and is spoken or written.” And a language is “the system of words or signs that people use to express thoughts and feelings to each other.” Many of you are probably about to quit reading this article because you know what a word is and why would you need an article made of words to tell you what you already know to be true? In reality, all of us agree that words are important, and the languages they compose are important. But what makes them important? What makes them significant? That would be their definition—the   explanation of the meaning of a word.

Here is where I have really been wrestling, and I feel that many people of my generation wrestle with this as well. Definition by the own root of the word is definite. However, we, these days, throw around words so flippantly that they lose their true value.

I love pizza.

I hope I get a good grade.

If we were to insert the definition into the previous phrases, I believe we would find that we were saying something that we didn’t really mean.

I “have a strong affection for” pizza.

I “cherish the desire with anticipation” to get a good grade.

With definitions becoming less and less definite due to the fact that they are becoming based on an individual’s perception or feeling of given words, the more difficult it is becoming to articulate, educate, and circulate certain values and opinions in society.  What has been very alarming to me is the effect of this mindset in the Christian community. Relative truth—an oxymoron in itself—coupled with the flippant use of words, will be detrimental to the church as a whole and to the individual Christian.

I know. That is a very bold statement. I do have reasons for believing this way. Some of which are based on some questions that have been posed to me recently.

“Why should I read the Bible?”

“How do you know God is speaking?”

If you can answer these questions without saying “because God says to” or “you just know, ya know?” or something churchy along those lines, then please, by all means, stop reading. You have this Christian stuff all figured out.

In order to answer both questions, I must intertwine the answers and then try to make a distinction.

If you have grown up in the church as I have, you have probably heard more than once the verses on how “all Scripture is God breathed” and “the Word of God is living and active” and how the Bible is God’s word and so on. Blah blah blah.

No. This is the problem and the answer all in one.  This is the reason I have been wrestling with words. The dismissive use of a word, and the indefinite definition of a word then shapes and impairs our view of THE Word. If we can devalue words in general—man’s only way of coherent expression of his opinion to another—spoken or written, how easy it is for us to apply that same mindset to a book, a word, written over the course of thousands of years. How easy it is to take the parts we like of God and create our own version of Him. (That’s another rant for another day…) How easy it is to redefine the indefinable.

Now, addressing the previously asked questions, if we believe God no longer audibly speaks, and if we believe that the Bible is God-breathed, and if we believe the previous, we must believe that the Bible is God’s word to us. Then by our own admittance, we believe that the Bible is God’s way of communication with us. However, since words have been devalued, our perspective of God’s word has shifted from a Holy, awe-inspiring book to one that has some good points on how to live. No wonder we have the question “How do we know God is speaking?” We don’t take His voice seriously! His Word, His beautiful written Word to us, has become nothing more to us than any other app on our phone. This is a problem. We are willingly forfeiting our ability to hear from God by not taking His word seriously. It is time to wake up. It is time to stop treating our relationship with God as a casual text message conversation in which words get tossed around flippantly.

In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers says “ Jesus said, ‘ The words that I speak unto you,’ not the words I have spoken, ‘they are spirit, and they are life.’” Jesus continues to speak to us today if we let Him. Words and definitions are so important. They are crucial. They not only express opinions, they express our very being. They are the only way we can tell someone we are a Type A personality who loves dogs and the color blue. The words we use to describe ourselves, define us as well. The same goes for God. The Bible is not only an expression of His opinion of how to do life, it is the only way He can define Himself. Obviously, He shows us who He is through creation, but the Bible is His way of revealing Himself. We should never take the Bible for granted, for it is His best means of communication.

Languages, words, and definitions are fascinating segments of being a conscious being. Let’s strive to make our use of them really count.