What a rocking month it's been. There's so much that I can't even remember it all...and I don't keep a daily journal that I can cheat off of like I had in India. Anyways, here's some of the cool stuff in my life last month.
First, while flying back to Colorado from Idaho, I had a very interesting conversation with the man next to me on the plane. He was probably early 50's and looked like a hunter. We talked about general things at first and then we moved on to spiritual things (I forget how we got there). He took a very passive approach to it. Like, “I believe this, they believe that, and you believe whatever and that's great for you.” I questioned him about truth for a while and then the topic went to evolution and eventually we ended up at the Bible. I would take him back to it and then he questioned it...which was funny because I had just gone over all that stuff about “Why Christians choose to believe the Bible.” From the things he said, it was obvious that he had no idea how we got the Bible although he claimed to have read all of it and “been there done that” and “of course I know where we got it.”At this last statement I asked him if he would explain where and how he thought we got it to which he said, “Oh, so now you're quizzing me?!” Not exactly the “got saved right there” type of conversation. We covered lots of area's, but it was mostly centered around “How do you know you have it right and every other religion has it wrong?” So..interesting.
Then I got back to Gunny and started going on campus with a couple dear brothers. They set up a book table with free booklets and free Bibles. One of them leads Cru on campus and had Soul-arium set up. This is a tool that uses pictures to start spiritual conversations with people and proved to be incredibly effective. We did this several weeks in a row and God blessed us with many AMAZING opportunities. I could write forever talking about just the conversations that happen in one day. It's just amazing to see the doors being opened. I'll share one special story. One guy about my age came over to the booth. I'd met him before once at the Brushfire. Even though I had only seen him that once, I remembered him because I'd had such a difficult conversation with him. He was arrogant, atheist, cynical, and confident. Just seemed impenetrable. I'd seen him around town just a couple times in the three years since then.
We talked for a while at the table and he asked about what the pictures were for. I explained it and asked him if he wanted to do it which he sarcastically did. However, in our conversation, before we mentioned anything spiritual, he would throw out little jokes about how much he drinks. He would laugh a little after each joke. After (literally) the fifth time or so, I just thought “This is really buging him.” So, quickly the conversation turned to God. I asked, “where are you at with God.” He responded that he sometimes goes to the Lutheran church and is pretty good. “So if you were to walk out that door in five minutes and drop dead, what would happen, would you go to heaven or hell?” “Well, I hope I could to go a confession first.” “No, I mean, no confession, like you walk out and your dead.” He was silent and struggling with his answer. “Well, I think I'd go to heaven, I'm pretty good and I stick to my principles.” “Well, do you think God will judge you by your principles or His standard.” More struggling until he admitted “His standard.” I asked him about if he knew about God's standard of the Ten Commandments. I walked him through several of them in a Ray Comfort style. He came to see his sin and see how far away he really was. Then...I got to share GRACE with him and explain how Jesus took all that sin and gives His righteousness as a free, totally undeserved, gift. I explained that God takes him as a wicked sinner and doesn't say clean up first. But to come to Him with all your problems and let Him take care of them. I could see the message was hitting him hard. He finally looked up at me (he had been staring at the ground for a while) and said, “Are you going to be a preacher? Cause you've hit me harder than the last three pastors I've heard.” Of course it's not me, but the Holy Spirit was hitting his heart. I encouraged him to repent and believe in Jesus—to trust in His righteousness. He took a Bible and I gave him some good places to start. He asked about the Brushfire and the times it's open. “I'll have to stop by, it'll be better than hanging out at the bars.” What a blessing to see this change. Several years before he seemed so hard and now he was like a sponge! Praise God for his mighty work. I haven't seen him in the Brushfire yet, but I pray that God would continue His work and that he would come to repentance.
There are many more conversations like that each week and it's simply amazing to see. I've also been given the chance to teach Sunday school at church. Wow, those kiddo's are just such a blast. After Sunday School, the church had baptisms which were great. One of the kids in my class got dunked! The pastor explained that when he had been talking with this little guy about baptism, he'd asked him, “so what is baptism?” to which the kid responded, “It's swimming in Jesus.” “that's some pretty deep theology,” the pastor said to us. Haha, it was great.
Saturday night services have been going well and I also had the chance to teach there one night and play music another. Making music certainly isn't my gift, but all our musicians were gone. But God is good, one dear lady loves to sing but doesn't play anything and I can (sort of/more or less/kinda) play guitar but singing's not super good. Sooo...we teamed up and it was really fun. The women from Saturday night are just rocking it right now. They have “caught the blaze.” And you can just about see the flames of godliness shining on them. To say these ladies are ON FIRE would be an understatement. They are so hungry for the word and have multiple Bible studies throughout the week where they continue to press in deep. Then they have prayer meetings on top of that and conferences and a desire for their husbands to know Christ as well as a desire to be more godly wives. However, you could definitely pray for the men. There are certainly some very faithful men who are wonderful servants, but in general it seems like most of the men aren't that stoked on it. Some are not yet saved, while others may be saved, but seem to be content just sitting. Please be praying for the men who come consistently but aren't saved. There are several who look like they're trying to get as close as possible to being a Christian without actually being one.
The Grand Canyon:
While I was in Idaho, I received a phone call from one of my kayaking buddies from CB. He said he got a permit to float the Grand Canyon and I was invited. I prayed about it and then agreed to go. He said it would be self support, meaning that there would be no rafts going to take our gear. So when I got back, I began the logistics of getting a larger boat in which I could pack all my camping gear and food for 13 days. Everything came together and we launched from Lee's Ferry on Oct. 23rd to paddle to 226 miles down to Diamond Creek. What an incredible trip! The Grand Canyon is truly breathtaking. The water was a little higher than last time I did it which made it pretty fun. We only had one guy swim the first day (kayaks are harder to roll when they're weighted down), and then one guy swam in Lava Falls. Other than that, it was pretty clean. We boated a lot and hiked a lot and climbed some. Such a blast! It's hard to even describe everything. The weather was pretty nice the first couple times and then it became windy one night and rained on us a little. The next morning there was strong wind and lots of rain. Definitely chilly. The good thing was that the wind was downstream. We almost literally flew down the river. We paddled nearly 18 miles in two hours without hardly trying. After that, the weather was pretty nice.
Spiritually, it was a difficult trip. While I grew closer to these guys and I want them to know Jesus so desperately, the opportunities seemed non-existent. Pretty disappointing except for one small conversation I had with one guy while the others were gone climbing. God gave me some encouragement on the trip home while I was reading “The Savage, My Kinsman” by Elizabeth Elliot. In the final pages, she talked about “success” and “failure” in ministry and how we try to measure it, but God often measures a totally different way. She mentioned that you don't want to glorify something trivial, but you also don't want to label something as a “failure” when that may in fact be something that God wants to use for something great. So that was encouraging. I hope that if nothing else, they were able to see something different in my lifestyle. Haha, one of the funniest compliments I received was on the last morning while we were playing hacky-sack. One of the guys said, “you know, Paul, You're the best non-pot smoking hacky sacker I know....I mean, you're even up there with some of the top stoners.” Haha, it was so funny. So I entrust them to God and if He gives me more opportunities with them, then I pray that I will be bold enough to share the good news with them. It was a wonderful trip, but it is nice to be back and not eating dehydrated meals for dinner every night.
Lastly, I had an email from CBMR when I got back that said they had decided to hire me as a ski instructor here this winter. Woohoo! Praise God for that! I'm excited to try out a new mountain and see what God has for me up there. As exciting as all these things have been, God has reminded me in multiple ways that my goal in life is nothing more than knowing Him. It is not service for Him or anything I do or accomplish, it's about knowing Him and that's it. That is a wonderful truth and has given me great peace.
“Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.” Luke 10:20
As always, I haven't proofed. If I really did, then it would be another 3 months to post probably. So, if there's lots of typo's and poor grammar and writing, then you can practice some grace. :) haha.