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Costa Rica Coming Up!

Greetings dear friends and family-

I am writing this update from downtown San Diego, where I have been working for the last 8 months as one of the pastors of Anchor Gaslamp Church and as a barista at a local coffee shop.  As you remember, last year I was blessed with the opportunity to serve several months in overseas missions to Kenya and India.  I was able to minister in the slums surrounding Nairobi and the leper colonies of Delhi.  Many of you were the ones who made it possible for me to go, and I thank God for using you to send me!  There are many people on the other side of the world who are forever changed because of your willingness to support the mission.

I write today because I have been afforded another opportunity to lead a short-term mission trip this summer.  I will be leading a group of about 20 high school students on a 2-week mission to Costa Rica.  Once again, this trip will be through the Adventures in Missions (AIM) organization that sends hundreds of teens, young adults, and adults out on missions across the world every year.  During this trip, our team will be serving a church in San Jose with VBS programs, youth ministry, and evangelism.     I am so excited for the opportunity to lead these students as they are exposed to the great need of the world for the good news of Jesus Christ!

I am thankful for this opportunity to serve the kingdom in overseas ministry.  Also, because of my leadership history with AIM and the short nature of the trip, AIM will be covering most of my trip costs.  This is a HUGE blessing!  My only expenses are the in-country flight to leader training in Georgia ($650), the wages I will lose from being away from work for 3 weeks total ($720), and medications/small miscellaneous expenses (?).

Although all Christians are called to be on mission wherever we live, it is often said of overseas ministry that, “some go by going, but others go by sending.” Not only is this trip an opportunity for me to go minister, it is an opportunity for you to serve the kingdom by sending me.  If you are able, I humbly ask for your prayers and financial support for this trip to Costa Rica.  Partner with me in sharing the gospel with those in Costa Rica that need to hear it.

In Christ,

Kenny Liles

I am able to receive donations either of these addresses:

My address:

Kenny Liles

P.O. Box 1481

Poway, CA 92074

If you need a tax write-off, send your donation to:

Adventures in Missions

ATTN: Kenny Liles Support Account

6000 Wellspring Trail

Gainesville, GA 30506

prophetic nostalgia

Just read this in my Kenya journal from exactly one year ago.  Wow.

As I stepped out onto the balcony where I have quiet time every morning, the crisp air reminded me of San Diego mornings.  I remember opening shifts at Starbucks, waking up @ 3:30 for work @ 4:15… by 5:30 I had my first break, and could watch the sun rise over the mountains east of Poway from the black metal tables and chairs in front of our store.  Then I remembered cool mornings downtown.

I envisioned myself sitting down with a cup of coffee and the newspaper, although I never read newspapers, in the patio area outside Java Jones.  Cool air on my neck, sun stretching through the crevices in between skyscrapers, cars gently waking up the road… a Saturday morning. “

Kind of weird that one year later, I work at Java Jones and watch the sunrise every opening shift.

Halfway through the Bible and one Year Past Kenya

I’ve officially reached the half-way point of the bible, and I’m perusing Proverbs today.  This 90-day bible reading experience is quite a task, but it’s proven so far to be very beneficial.

On another note, one year ago I was about 1 month into my trip in Kenya.  For the last few days, I’ve been going through the journals I kept, and it’s neat how I’ve seen God speak to me in current situations from my journals written one year ago.  Here is a an excerpt:

God is good.  Just a few moments ago, I was sitting here in the field thinking about grass… how that in the big picture, I’m just a blade of grass that fades away and most people will never know about.

But this thought didn’t leave me sad.  The Bible says that we wither away as grass, but the Word of the Lord endures forever.

Forever.

And I took great comfort in withering, because God has ordained the process.  He has an outline for me and I have no need to fear.  In fact, I have no fear- in Jesus’ name.

And as I thought about how short my life is, like a blade of grass turning brown, or a mist quickly vanishing, I was reminded that only one thing is needed.  And that one thing is not money, power, fame, or favor…

It is sitting at Jesus’ feet and learning from him.

2/20/09 Kijabe, Kenya

1 down, 2 to go

So, I read a third of the bible last month.

That’s the first time I’ve ever been able to say that.  I’ve been doing this really intense scripture-reading plan that I was first introduced to by my brother-in-law a few years ago.  The Bible in 90 days.  It’s really easy.  Just take the number of pages in your bible, divide by 90, and then read that many pages each day for 3 months.

Those are the nuts and bolts of it, but reading scripture this way is different than anything I’ve ever done.  I tend to take my time on certain passages, even meditating.  I can spend a week on a few chapters.  That’s kind of the zoomed-in, microscopic level.

But this 90-day reading is like the birds-eye view/airplane window level.  What’s so different about it to me is that you can see all the ins and outs of stories… even within one sitting.  Yes, you miss a lot of detail and or secondary meanings because you don’t have time to ponder each verse.  But I’ve also found that I’m catching details that I’ve never seen before simply because the story is still so fresh.

I read through Genesis in 3 days.  3 days!  It’s crazy how much you can see the plot lines in big brush strokes of the patriarchs of our faith.

Anyway, that’s a random thing I’m doing, along with a guy in our church.  We’re pretty stoked to be 1/3 of the way through, and we’re still trying to find the most appropriate way to celebrate at the end of the 3 months.

In other news, I’m excited that we’re beginning our new series tomorrow at Anchor Gaslamp on the 4 G’s. (Four Great Truths about God.)  I’m preaching about the first one tomorrow – “God is Great- so we don’t have to be in control.”  It’s funny how I’m speaking about something that has often been difficult for me to learn, as evidenced by my last post.   But I suppose that is part of discipleship!

peace!

Trust in God

Trust in God is something I’ve been learning for a while.  I can remember as a kid hearing my grandmother talk about a time in her life when she was struggling with doubt.  In prayer one night, she was sharing with God her doubts and asking for answers when she opened her bible incidentally to Proverbs 3:5 which read, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.”

Trust in God is something we often find easy to prescribe to others, yet difficult to dose for ourselves.  Maybe it’s because we’re not sure about what we should be trusting God with.  For instance, you might be disappointed if you trust in the Lord with all your heart for $1,000,000.  Why?  Because God never said he would make all your dreams come true.  But what did he say?  “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.”  (Btw, ‘all these things’ doesn’t mean $1,000,000.  It means food, clothing, and shelter in the original context.)

Trust in God is difficult for us for many reasons.  One reason it’s hard for me is that I sort of have a sense of entitlement.  Like if I trust God that he will somehow give me all the main things I want.  And it’s hard knowing that he doesn’t have to do that.  And if he doesn’t give us the things we want, he will still be God and he will still be good.  I think the reason for some of this confusion is because of the mixed messages and prosperity gospels present in the church, but the same God that I serve who has blessed me with a college education and a car is the same God that my brothers and sisters in Kenya serve who wonder where their next meal will come from and if they’ll find work in the next year.

And that for me has been tough.  I don’t quite know how to reconcile all the things I saw in my travels last year with all the things I’ve seen in the states.  And more specifically in the American church.  I can’t justify as many things as I used to.  I don’t feel like I have a right to many of the things I used to take for granted.  And I’m not sure what to do about it.

Trust in God.  That’s what I’m talking about.  I think the main thing that I have learned is that it is most important to do the things that you know God has called you to do. . . whatever that means.  Because the gospel truth is that when Jesus’ glory is revealed in the last day, the sufferings we incur here will not even be comparable to the glory which will be revealed in us (Rom 8:15).  If I hear Jesus say, “Well done,” every dollar given away, every minute spent serving, every skipped meal, every sleepless night, every trial, every persecution, every thing will be more than worth it all.

Trust in God.  The other thing I’m learning is that he works things out.  They may not always come together on my timeline.  They may not always look like I had hoped.  I may freak out a bit during the process.  But, lately, every time I finally quit freaking out and trusting is right about when God. just. works. things. out.

In his own time, in his own way, how he wants it to look.  And it’s OK, because he is in control— and he is good.

I’m back again… maybe

How many times have I come ‘back’ to the blogosphere?  I’m not sure.  And I’m also not too sure why I left last time.

It might have had something to do with not having internet access in the guest house on the hill where I was staying.  Or maybe it was because of the new job, the new volunteer work, the new band, and the whole pastor thing.  It is probably safe to say I was a little overwhelmed.  Either way, the last few months have been very eventful, even though I haven’t really shared it online at all.

Rather than send random updates on my life out into internet oblivion, I think the only way this blog will survive is if I’m able to be a little more real.  I mean, if anyone reads, do you really care about what I did for dinner two nights ago?  No, you don’t.

So I think that means blogging as a type of online journal, a creative outlet.  I think that’s what needs to be done.  So that’s what I’ll do.

Amen.

A semi-full plate

Two weeks ago, I didn’t have much on my plate beside looking for a job.  What a difference two weeks can make.

So, I moved.  Started a job @ Java Jones, which is going quite well.  But I also added a few more things to the mix.

A couple of weeks ago I started practicing with an eclectic folk/jazz band.  The groove is pretty tight, and my first gig with the new band is this weekend!  Stoked about that.

Also, I began volunteering with a San Diego-based non-profit called AWARE Recycling.  The idea behind AWARE is to set up a consistent stream of income to support other non-profits like Invisible Children, the ONE Campaign, BLOOD: Water Mission, and others.  AWARE picks up the recycling from clubs and businesses in San Diego.  In exchange for the CRV, the businesses get a tax write-off.  It’s the brainchild of some of my best friends, Vince and Nancy, along with an awesome dude named Chad.  You should definitely check it out.

The work is dirty and late.  So far, I’ve only done two midnight runs, which involve visiting the businesses with which we have contracts and picking up their glass bottles and other recyclables.  There are a bunch of broken bottles and a lot of foul smells in dark alleys.  But so far, it’s really cool being part of something so real.

That’s the update.  Anyway, my plate is quickly filling up. . . but I’m still trying to keep afloat on the whole reading-a-book-a-week thing.