Saturday, March 25, 2017

Ephesians 6:13

Ephesians 6:13 – Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and when you have done everything, to stand.



          Paul paints a vivid picture of a knight getting ready to defend his castle. We are to put on the full armor of God, as he says. This is in the spiritual, though, not in the natural; for “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
          As we see this picture of a knight getting ready for battle we see that each piece of his equipment represents a different characteristic that we are to take on. We start with truth as a belt. For a knight everything hangs off the belt and so it is with us; everything hangs off the Truth of God. If not based on the Truth everything would come from a lie; so we must start with the Truth.
          Then we need righteousness which is the image of a breastplate. Our righteousness comes from Christ and because of Him we are called the righteousness of God. Next we have readiness, which is represented as a covering for your feet. This stems from the peace that comes with the gospel of Jesus. If we are living in fear or worry we will not be ready to do God’s calling.
          Now we come to faith. Faith is our shield; with it we believe God and therefore block all of the attacks of the enemy. Faith is also how we receive salvation, the next piece of the armor, which covers our heads and protects our thoughts. That is our defense. Most of our equipment is for defense, but last of all we take up the sword of the Spirit; the Word of God. This is our weapon. We use the Word to fight our battles. God’s Word has power and He has given us the authority to use it.

          And now that you have done everything, stand. Stand on all that God has done for you through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Focal Point by Billy Graham

The Focal Point

Taken from “Hope for Each Day” devotionals by Billy Graham


 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” - Revelation 22:13

The central message of the Bible is Jesus Christ.

In Genesis, Jesus is the Seed of the Woman. In Exodus, He is the Passover Lamb. In Leviticus, He is the atoning Sacrifice. In Numbers, the Smitten Rock. In Deuteronomy, the Prophet. In Joshua, the Captain of the Lord’s hosts. In Judges, the Deliverer. In Ruth, the Heavenly Kinsman. In the six books of Kings, the Promised King. In Nehemiah, the Restorer of the nation. In Esther, the Advocate. In Job, my Redeemer. In Psalms, my Strength. In Proverbs, my Pattern. In Ecclesiastes, my Goal. In the Song of Solomon, my Satisfier. In the prophets, the coming Prince of Peace. In the gospels, He is the Christ who came to seek and to save. In Acts, He is the Christ risen. In the epistles, He is Christ exalted. In Revelation, He is Christ returning and reigning.


The message of the Bible is the story of salvation through Jesus – and the whole world needs to know this story. Whom have you told today?


**I thought this was a great explanation of how the story of Jesus has been weaved throughout the whole Bible and I wanted to share.**


Thursday, March 3, 2016

Devastated by the Storm!!

There are so many things that we take for granted. Living in the Pacific Northwest, weather is one of them. We get rain, that's for sure, and occasional flooding. But when it comes to natural disasters that can level a whole city we have been very fortunate. They say one is coming for us, but for now we have been blessed.

So, when we hear about these disasters that happen all around the world it is hard to imagine the gravity of what it means. Sometimes I think it's like something from a movie. We will talk to our friends and co-workers about it, "Can you believe what happened?", and then we just continue with our day. It becomes a topic of conversation, but then we never actually do anything about it.

Then it happens in an area where we have friends. When you have family and friends that are affected by one of these natural disasters it becomes a lot more real.

Last summer my wife and I journeyed over to the small island of Fiji and met some amazing people. Just over a week ago a Cyclone hit that island and left its impression on much of the area where we visited. This storm has been dubbed Cyclone Winston and had winds that set new records. If this storm had taken place in the Alantic it would have been considered a category 5 hurricane. Needless to say it was enough to devastate cities and towns all across the small island.

Our dear friends Tomasi & Serina's home after the storm
This is an excerpt from the email I received from our friends:

One week ago, Fiji was hit with what they say is the worst storm on record in the southern hemisphere: a category 5 cyclone called Winston.  The death toll is currently at 42.  Many have lost everything, as their homes were ripped up and blown away by the 220 mph winds.

Because of this storm there are now children without parents, people finding shelter in caves, entire villages flattened, churches and schools demolished.  62,000 people are in evacuation centers. Everyone knows someone who has been affected. 

OUR HOUSEHOLD, AND ALL OF THE ISLAND ENCOUNTERS STAFF AND TEAM ARE FINE.  We have sustained damage to the farm and sailboat but we are all okay. The clean up and rebuilding in Fiji will take a long time, and we hope to do what we can to help.


So what do we do when something like this happens? How can we help? For most of us it would not be feasible to drop everything and go over there. So what do we do? There are ways you can help those affected by this Cyclone without even leaving the comfort of your own home. First of all pray. Pray for the people of Fiji and also that Island Encounter's will be able to effectively minister the Love of God to those who are hurting.

Also, Ray & Laura Pittman with Island Encounters are on the ground ready to help, but there are costs that come along with that. If you want to help in the clean up and rebuilding of these homes and villages follow the below link to give a tax deductible donation to Island Encounters through the Pioneers website.

CLICK HERE to make a tax deductible gift through Pioneers to help with cyclone relief! Your donation will help Island Encounters to re-build houses, and give food and supplies to those most in need. ENTER ACCT #150864H



Here are some more pictures of storm damage in Fiji
 Displaying Displaying

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Island Encounters - Oasis Farm

Oasis Farm

Top left to Bottom right: Entering Oasis farm; farm house; tool shed; dorm building.
There are so many aspects to Island Encounters and our adventures in Fiji that it will take a few blogs tell you about all that God did and is doing. As I begin writing I want to focus on the farm and what God is doing through that part of the ministry. This is a key component to the Pittman's vision for ministry in Fiji, both in hosting teams from around the world as well as witnessing to the native Fijians and Indians.

The History:

A few years back the Pittman's acquired this 14 acre plot of land that is currently known as Oasis Farm. When they took over the property it had been used as a sugar cane farm and the main farm house was so run down that their first instinct was to burn it to the ground. Now they have cleaned up and remodeled much of the farm house, built a dorm building and removed all of the sugar cane.

The Ministry:

Island Encounters vision for the farm is multi-faceted. First it serves as a location for teams to come and stay while they are serving and ministering on the island of Fiji. They are able to help in the production and growth of the farm and have a base of operations while they help the Pittman's in other areas of ministry. The farm also serves as a source of income that gives some of the locals work, and eventually will help fund Island Encounters. When you talk to Ray about the farm, though, the vision goes much deeper. He sees it as a place where people of every race and religion can come to learn about farming and build relationships. As Island Encounters continues to develop the farm they see it becoming a place where other farmers can come to learn about methods of farming that are new to Fiji. Then, as they are learning they will build relationships with the Pittman's and others on the farm that will lead to sharing about Jesus. Most of the people of Fiji are either Muslim or Hindu and if you approach them to share about Jesus they will not listen and they will never darken the door of a church. However, if they come to Oasis farm to learn about farming they will experience the Love of Christ through the Pittman's and those that are teaching them. It's about sharing Christ through relationship, not preaching. As it's name describes Oasis Farm is a fertile spot in a desert where water is found, both in the natural and the spiritual.

The Plant Life:


Plants on the farm include mango, coconut, pomegranate,
cactus, lime & passion fruit.

As you walk around the farm you will see many types of trees growing including papaya, mango, coconut, bananas, breadfruit, passion fruit, pomegranate, and limes. They also have a tree there that is called Moringa Oleifera or Moringa Tree. This tree is also known as the Miracle tree because it has so many vitamins and nutrients in the leaves that it is used in many vitamin supplements. It has 7 times the vitamin C of Oranges, 4 times the vitamin A of Carrots, 4 times the Calcium of milk, 3 times the potassium of bananas and 2 times the protein of yogurt.




The Crops:

Sugar Cane is a failing industry. It doesn't produce a lot of money, but many of the locals think that once a field is used to grow the cane it cannot be used to do anything else. The Pittman's vision is to introduce new ways of using the land that was once thought to be able to grow only one thing: sugar cane. Currently they are harvesting Papaya and have now started growing water melon and beans. They also have a small crop of Cassava. This is a woody shrub that is harvested for the root, which is prepared much like we prepare potatoes.


Papaya Farming:

Once  a Papaya tree is planted it takes about 9 months before it will produce a harvest. At that point it will be harvested once a week until the tree stops producing good fruit, which is about 3 years. Island Encounters harvests every Monday and then they take the fruit to the market on Tuesday. In our limited time on the farm Nicole and I were able to participate in 2 harvests, which includes picking, washing and sorting the fruit. Currently, the Papaya trees that are producing are reaching the end of their life. Because of this Ray and Laura, with the help of the Edge team, recently planted a new field that will hopefully be ready to harvest by the time the current field is done.

Chickens:

Another source of income for the farm is the eggs. With just over 30 chickens currently laying everyday they have quite a few eggs to sell at the market every week along with the Papaya. Island Encounters is able to get more for their eggs since their chickens are free-range and are fed papaya and moringa leaves along with their regular chicken feed. The chickens are fed twice a day and the eggs are generally collection 3 times during the day.

From left top to bottom right:
Banana trees; Papaya tree; Moringa Tree; Papaya Orchard; Chickens.


Aquaponics:

Aquaponics
Aquaponics is an innovative type of farming that I had never heard of prior to Island Encounters. It is a self-sustaining system that allows you to farm both fish and vegetables at the same time. In this system the water cycles out of the fish tanks and through the garden beds and then back in to the tanks. As the dirty water (w/fish droppings) cycles through the garden beds, which work as a filter, the plants are able to use what they need and clean the water so that it returns to the fish tanks clean. Currently on Oasis farm the fish that they are growing is Tilapia and the garden beds are growing lettuce. It is still in development, but once it is fully functional all they will have to do is feed the fish and then they will be able to harvest both fish and vegetables.


Honey:

Recently Island Encounters has ventured into the land of bees. This will serve a dual purpose on the farm. First, they will be able to harvest and sell the honey. And second, the bees will help pollinate all the crops and therefore increase the productivity of the farm. Right now Island Encounter is in the early stages of this venture, but plan on harvesting their first batch of honey in the next few months.


The Van:


The farm van w/ Ste standing next to it.
Now I am very excited to be able to tell you about this part. This is what all of you have been helping raise money for over the last few months. Our goal in this was to raise all the money that was needed to pay off the van so Island Encounters could own it outright. As of yet we have not reached that goal, but we were able to bless Island Encounters with about $2000.00 toward the $5000.00 that was needed. I can't begin to thank you enough for all the generous donations. There are a couple of churches that I want to call out that partnered with us in raising this money - Connection Church of Oregon City, Misseo Dei Fellowship of Oregon City, Oregon Trail Fellowship of Oregon City and City Center Church men's group of Redmond Oregon. Thank you all who donated. As I mentioned we have not yet finished paying off the van and if you would like to help you can go here to make a donation.

The Critters:


Finally, I want to tell you about some of the critters that you will see on the farm. As first step out of your vehicle you will be greeted by the farm dogs. In this picture you will see two of those dogs. They were rescued by the team that was at the farm prior to us being there. In the top left picture you see what they looked like when we got there (they were pretty frail and you could see their ribs) and the bottom right shows how they looked the day we left. In this picture you will also see some of the other animals that we had to watch out for while on the farm. The top right shows a picture of the frogs. Once the sun went down they were everywhere. As you would walk it would seem as if the ground was moving. They have no natural predators, so they thrive and are everywhere. In the bottom left picture you can see some of the red ants. You could find nests like this one scattered around on the farm. Every once in a while when I was working I would start to feel pain in my foot and I would look down and realize I was standing in a nest and my foot was covered in them. They didn't hurt too bad, but were definitely a pain. Also, in this picture you see one of the spiders and gecko's that you could find running around on the farm.

More Information:

If you want more information about Island Encounters and the work they are doing in Fiji you can go to their website - islandencountersfiji.com. You can also check out or subscribe to their blog - fijifamadventures.blogspot.com. And last but not least, if you want to get involved financially with Island Encounter's to either help us finish paying off their van or to help support them in other areas you can do that here or if you want to support the Pittman family you can do that here.


More views of the farm property.

Stay tuned for more blogs about our adventures in Fiji.


Friday, July 31, 2015

Will you be Jesus to me?

Will you be Jesus to me?
A tribute to the victims of human trafficking

All I see are walls closing in around me
I’m surrounded by darkness
with no glimpse of light
All I know is pain
with no end in sight
and if I fight?
The abuse comes more frequently then
No, all hope is lost
There’s no way I can win
You say that there is hope?
I’ve heard that before
from the one lying next to me
passed out on the floor
You say I’m not forgotten
but no one knows my name
When I open my eyes
I see darkness and shame.
And even worse is the fear
It creeps in and all around
And I cower and cringe
every time I hear a sound
From a creak in the floor
to a rattle at the door
Not knowing what’s in store
Or the horrors that await me
So I wait and see
As fear engulfs me
and swallows me whole
I’ve lost all hope
Which my circumstance stole
Then, in the midst of my suffering
While I am lost in my fear
A voice cuts through the darkness
And this is what I hear:


“I know your pain
I’ve been where you are
You may find it hard to believe
But let me show you the scars
I was beaten and bloody
and raised up for all to see
Displayed on a cross
with nails in my hands and feet
But worse than that
The pain that comes from within
Left all alone
and betrayed by a friend
I was abandoned
as I took on the world’s sin
I was in utter darkness
The grave, hell and beyond
Separated from God
All hope seemed gone
But then...
On day number three
I was resurrected by the power
That is inside of me
Now, I am with you in your darkest hour
I’m setting you free
I am with you in your darkness
I’m the light that you see
I am with you in your pain & shame
And even though it seems you are forgotten
I know your name
I came to earth for you
I died for you
I was resurrected for you
Now I live for you
Hope is not gone
Because I’m bringing you near
Let my perfect Love
Drive out all your fear
In your pain and despair
Rest in the fact that I am here”


Then it goes quiet
and my mind begins to wander
In this new-found silence
I begin to ponder
Who is this Jesus?
who comes to me in my dreams
Who is this Jesus?
who says life is not as it seems
He’s brought me so far
but I have so far to go
He’s shown me so much
but there so much I don’t know
What is coming tomorrow
and what will I do?
So many struggles
How will I get through?
These questions and more
still echo in my mind
but now a truth that’s louder
Jesus helped me to find
I know where I am going
I know who holds my eternity
Right now I may be held captive
but one day I will be free
So as you sit and listen
and wonder, “What can I do?”
I want to ask you a question
that will show your Love true
Will you continue in life
and pretend that you do not see
Or will you open your heart;

Will you be Jesus to me?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

In this world you will have trouble....


"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." 
John 6:33b


Life brings many things. Some are good, but we can be sure that there will be troubles. Jesus promises it, but then He gives us hope. He has overcome the world. Jesus is an over-comer and we can be an over-comers through Him. Unfortunately for us, though, it is not going to just happen. We have to do something!

One of the first things that we must understand is that hard times do not dictate our future. It is what we do with those things that determines what direction our life is going to take. We are not the result of our circumstances, but rather the result of the decisions we make in those circumstances. You can take two people, put them through the exact same things and have their lives take two entirely different paths. One person takes their hard times and uses them to better themselves and produce a positive outcome, while the other focuses on the problem and lets it consume them. Same problem; two entirely different outcomes.

I have heard it said "Attitude determines altitude", meaning that with a good attitude we can actually rise above our troubles and turn them for good. This is such an important concept and if you take hold of it I guarantee it will change your life. You ever notice how certain people always seem to have drama? It seems like no matter what they do something bad always happens? And then there are those who seem to always have 'good luck'? I challenge you to take a look at these two different lives and compare them. More often than not you will see many similarities. Both have problems and issues that come up, but the difference comes with the attitude each person has through their troubles. One person focuses on the problem and it brings them down, while the other looks past it and keeps going.

I say this as an encouragement to those who are facing impossible odds. Even though sometimes it seems that there is no hope, there is always hope. We must make a decision to look up from our problem and look past it. When you do not focus on your problem it will not seem to be as big.

Another way to think of this is that whatever you focus on is the direction your life will head. If you focus on the problem you will run right into it, but if you focus beyond the problem you will move past it. This is not saying it will not affect you, but it will not stop you.

I also want you to take a look at God's promises. If you are living your life for Him you can rest assured that He is is wanting the best for you. God Loves you and His Word tells us "that in all things He works for the good of those who Love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."(Romans 8:28)

In order for God's promises to help us through our problems we must have faith in them. "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."(Hebrews 11:1) We all hope for a better future or a way out of our current crisis. Faith is knowing that hope will become a reality. It is
being able to look at all that is going on around you and seeing how you can use it to better yourself.

See, we have the promise that God will bring good out of every circumstance, but until we believe in that promise we will never see it.

To give an example I will use a situation out of my own life. My mother died when I was 13. At that time my younger brother and I lived with her in a small town in Washington. It was a tragic situation that turned my life upside down. At the time I was going through it, and for that matter many years after, it was hard for me to see the good that was coming out of it. Now, as I look back on the situation I can see how God orchestrated every detail as He was working to bring good out of it. I can see how God's hand has directed me since then, beginning with moving to Oregon with my Grandma all the way to meeting and marrying my wife.

I am not saying that moving to Oregon and meeting my wife wouldn't have happened if my mom hadn't died, but it would have been different. And everything that I went through has made me who I am today because I allowed God to work good through my negative circumstance.

Now I'll stop my rambling and give you the bottom line. It really just comes down to God. If you keep your focus on Him even when you are facing hardship you will come out of it victorious. Remember, through Christ we are more than conquerors because He has overcome the world. All these other things, such as attitude and faith, play important parts, but are nothing without your focus being God.

 

Friday, June 19, 2015

You're not my enemy.......You're my brother!!!

As a parent there are many times that my children say things that stand out from their normal banter. Some times it provides conviction and other times it just provides a laugh. This is a story that provides both. Also, please note that the pictures have nothing in particular to do with the story. They are just included because they make me laugh.

Before I begin my story I want to mention the dangers of teaching your children the difference between right and wrong. The danger is this: If you ever mess up (not that you ever would) they will be the first to remind you about it.

Now, this story takes place (as most of the interesting ones seem to) on a day when it is just me and the kids. My wife was out with her mom and sisters. I decided to take the kids and go to Costco for lunch and groceries. To brag on them a little, they actually did great at Costco. And to brag on my accomplishment for a minute I fed all 5 of us lunch with dessert for under 12 bucks. That's the beauty of a Costco dogs and frozen yogurt. Leaving Costco is where the the title of this blog comes from.

I got the car loaded with all the kids and groceries and start to back out. As I am about half way out of my spot another car comes rushing up behind me like they are not going to stop. I hesitate my backing because I am not looking for a wreck or anything. At that point the car stops...just close enough to make it really awkward to turn any further as I continue to back out. Well, I managed to finagle my way the rest of the way out and as I do so I comment to nobody in particular, 'That guy is being an idiot."

Just then my daughter speaks up, "Dad, you said we are supposed to Love our enemies. That means we shouldn't call them names."

OUCH!! Correction from my seven year old. As I am thinking of what to say my boys come quickly to my defense.

"If you're not supposed to call them names, then why are you always calling us names," they said.

Without missing a beat my daughter responds, "You're not my enemies....you're my brothers!"


That response made me laugh a little. Then I made my apology and acknowledged that my daughter was right and we are supposed to Love our enemies and do good to them, even when you don't feel like it.

So there are a few things that I learned from this conversation. 

1. If I teach my kids something I better make sure that I practice it or I am going to find myself asking them for forgiveness (which is bound to happen sometimes anyway).

2. My boys will come to my defense (at least if it means verbally attacking their sister)

3. Apparently siblings are in a different category from enemies, so it is OK to call them names
They were supposed to smile

They were supposed to be serious

They were suppose to be funny

If you have anything kind of funny that you have learned from your children please comment below. I would love to hear it.