Intermission: Earning My Christian GED

July 15, 2011

Hey everyone!  I’m back for a one day intermission in my absence from the blog.

So as I wash my clothes and repack them to prepare to leave town for another week, I’ve got thoughts bursting out of my ears.  Here’s a little bit of what’s going on in my head, from my time out of town, to my realization that I’m a Christianity drop-out.  I can’t wait to get back and start blogging again.

Rocks, Rocks Everywhere…and Bums

Colorado was really beautiful.  Though it was a little untidy.  Rocks lying everywhere, just willy nilly.  But very beautiful, nevertheless.  Vacation has also become a time when I can count on my wife at some time giving me sort of an annual spiritual “check-up.”  While probing, it’s still much more comfortable than getting a physical check-up.

Leslie is a faithful commenter here and she and her husband, Pete were very gracious to invite us over for lunch one day.  Their stories and ministry are amazing.  Go read Leslie’s blognow. Oh, and if you’re ever traveling through flyover country (Missouri), give me a holler, and maybe we can meet up.

Denver has a lot of homeless people.  Curiously though, there were “regular” bums, and then there were a lot of young people who looked as if they were being homeless for fun. They seemed like really well equipped homeless people, with frame backpacks, and shoes and teeth.  They looked like they were having the time of their lives.  Granted, being homeless is probably great when you  can outfit yourself with sweet camping gear, and Mom’s basement is just a mile away, but it seemed like kind of an insult to the really homeless people.

Earning my GED

This weekend, I’m heading out for a mission trip in sunny Heroica Matamoros, Mexico.  Ironically, the forecast is for temps to be cooler down there than in my home town.  I highlighted the impulsiveness of this decision here.

I don’t know what will happen down there.  I know I am not going to change the world.  I am not going so I can feel good about myself.  I am just going to see what happens, and hopefully work my butt off in some meaningful way.

I have never gone on a short term mission before.  That has lately been a point of shame for me.  It’s like a short term mission was the last requirement for my generation to become real “Christians,” and I dropped out a month before graduation.  So this is like earning my Christian GED.

And while I may be taking a few photos, I’m going to do my best to not do very much.  Because I’ve seen way too many college students beg their churches for money to go on a mission trip.  Then they come back with tons of pictures.  And what are 90% of their pictures?  Sightseeing.  McDonald’s.  Whatever happens over the coming week, I don’t want to be a dumb American tourist (though my Spanish is…muy malo, to say the least.)  I’m also leaving my Birkenstocks and khaki shorts at home.

The Blog World Goes On In My Absence

Holy crap, Jamie the Very Worst Missionary has been tearing it up lately and putting people in their places, talking about short term missions.  After reading all of that, I almost feel like a tool for even going on a mission trip.  Maybe I should try to get her featured here…

Speaking of which, do you have any interest in guest blogging for me?  Or do you want me to write a post for you?  Let me know.  I may give you the chance when I return…if there’s a lot of interest.

Talk to me, people!  Tell me about a place you enjoy traveling, a mission trip you went on (or tell us that you’ve never been on one), or tell me you’re interested in a little bit of guest blogging.  I promise I have lined up some cool stuff for next week!

20 responses to Intermission: Earning My Christian GED

  1. Hi Matt,

    Colorado is beautiful and if we can not live in Florida or in Heaven, Denver would be my next choice.

    I hope you and Mexico are good for each other.

    I began my own mission trip in 1939 and I’m not Home yet. Hope I haven’t done too much damage to the colorful native inhabitants.

    As far as a guest post goes, hardly anybody reads the postings on my own site anyhow. My own bride only checks out my blog about once a month! She says she’s heard me whine for 43 years and doesn’t need to read about it too.

    Reminds me of that De-Motivational poster that says, “BLOGING: Now You Can Show the Whole World Why Nobody Listens To You”.

    Have a great trip to Mexico and come back still inspired. You will be missed.

    John Cowart

  2. I’ve got a post written up I haven’t had published anywhere yet about the different types of people you meet at Christian conferences. I think it could be a good fit for here.

    The only place I’ve ever been to on a mission trip was a small city in another part of Australia. The main thing we did was a Christmas musical in schools. Hoping the video of those performances never surfaces.

  3. have a great time in Mexico. despite the harangue about short term trips not being worth the money, God still seems to do amazing things on them, and the biggest of which is speaking to our hearts about who he is. Hope that is your experience too bro! I would be interested in doing a post swap sometime, check me out and if you have interest, just let me know when you get back.

  4. Colorado is sensational in out in the mountains. Although I am an ocean sort of guy, I loved the Rockies!

    I am really excited about your mission. So often we go expecting to do something good, but God can use us to do something great. As evangelicals we always hope to close the deal, but there are so many other ways to serve, to make others laugh, to be a shoulder for them to cry, and to pray. I mean we have a living God that does stuff, I am praying that He will do stuff through you, Matt Appling. You can’t change the world, but God can through you.

    I have done a number of short term missions. If anyone wants to finance me, I promise to bring back stories of God doing cool stuff. (Although McDonald’s which serve beer and fried chicken are a little out of the ordinary and worth mentioning. :0) Lots of stories from Brazil and Norway on http://www.fireandgrace.com – find them under the topics.

    I am always available to guest for you Matt. You know how to find me.

    Godspeed!

  5. I’ve never been on a mission trip before…

    when I was younger…we had to like do some car washing at my church for some young girl who wanted to go on a mission trip….

    she also begged everyone for money….

    It was my take that missions trips are expensive….so …i never looked into it….

    fastforward 13 years….and i’m wondering why the great commision is so expensive….Jesus should have warned me about this…

  6. We were in Missouri last weekend! We spent a night in Colombia and a night in St. Louis. The drive, though, was no bueno. Pretty… lame? =)

    Anyway, I’d love for you to guest post over at Life Before the Bucket! I’m no Jamie The VWM, but I do like Jesus!

  7. A note on begging money for missions – I don’t really like the term.

    The idea of going to the nations was part of the plan of creation. Gen 1:28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth…” This was pre-sin. God’s creation was meant to be a heavenly existence from the beginning for the entire earth.

    Isaiah 66:18 “It shall be that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see My glory.” That is the job of the church, the reveal God’s glory!

    The problem is that we have become so “tithe to the storehouse-centric”, that we don’t even know how to give without guilt or obligation. (Not to mention very few Christians actually tithe anyway)

    The proper view in my opinion, is that we do like Paul did: we make tents and support ourselves, and we receive offerings to do the work of the Kingdom from those in our Christian community. Every Christian needs to hear God on giving both abundantly and cheerfully. The idea that poor people are some how blessed is NOT Bible. (It says “blessed are the poor in SPIRIT” not in cash.

    The work of Kingdom takes finances. We can tell ourselves how efficient it would be to do this and that with our money, but God knows what He doing – and it’s worth paying attention. (pun not necessarily intended) We can support missions, and we should.

    God sends believers with messages from Him wherever he darn well pleases. 😉

    Those that are called to missions, need our support. If Christians do not fund missions, Glen Beck and Oprah will end up preaching the Gospel or worse, it may never be heard.

    And finally, missions shold not be for rich people. I’m just sayin.

    I hope this doesn’t ruin my chances as a guest poster. :0

    • So are the poor blessed, cursed, or is wealth and poverty neutral in the blessings / curses scheme of things?

      • I don’t think being poor is a blessing at all. Certainly God can use poverty to attract people’s attention, but he can use all sort of calamity to do the same to draw us near.

        We have come to believe that money = blessing. That is not so. If it were, we could steal money and be blessed. The Bible says that all good things come from the Father. What are these good things? They are spiritual in nature, the fruit of doing his will. The Bible also says that the Devil comes to rob, kill and destroy. This is not a blessing anymore than his assault on Job was a blessing.

        Curses originate in sin, and blessing originates in the doing of God’s will (not religious practice). If we are in God’s will, regardless of the circumstances, we are blessed; these are the “good things.” Think Daniel in the lion’s den, and Paul and Silas in prison; they were blessed! If we are in perpetual sin or unforgiveness, we are under a curse. If we are striving to do good and obey the law, we are also under a curse and have not received grace.

        To answer your question, wealth and poverty are neutral until God’s will (not some pop-culture Bible verse) is applied. Paul was content when he was broke and when he was wealthy. He was blessed because he was in the flow of God’s will for his life. His new man was alive and the old man was being put to death.

        Some are poor because they are under a curse, others because they are fools with their money, and others because of their lot in life. This like asking if God is on control when someone is born with a mental or physical defect. In the case of children of addicts that become addicts, it’s a curse. Our DNA is often a record of generational blessings and curses.

  8. Just remember, it’s about them. :)

  9. I’ve been on a few missions trips. The most recent was to Brazil this January. And yeah, Jaime’s post was serious.

    I’d love to guest post or even swap posts. That would rock! You have a great community and I’d love to share my thoughts with everyone.

    If you would like to rock out a post on identity, that would make my day! You know where to find me.

  10. I am always interested in guest-blogging, but I tend to take it easy as I am a college student once more and working with three and a half different ministries (helping a new youth pastor with Junior High/High School and College/Young Adult, our fledgling Men’s ministry, and a wilderness/Young Adult ministry, as well as discipling some young men who also happen to be involved with some of these).

    In 2005 I went with a group to northern Morocco to help rebuild houses from an earthquake in 2004. Most of my pictures were of damaged houses, newer houses, the locals, and the food. Very few were touristy. It was that trip that I truly began to understand what it means to live by the Holy Spirit. It was rather amazing.

    Have fun! Learn much! Do His work! God bless you, brother!

  11. Never been on an official “mission trip.” I’ve been on trips to places hit by disasters to help rebuilding but never an officially designated, Christian GED earning mission trip. I’ll have to live vicariously through you. :)

    And I’d love to guest post for you some time.

  12. Hey Matt,

    Colorado is beautiful, and I’ll say some prayers for you while you are on your missions trip in Mexico. I think you have a great attitude and I will pray that you work is profitable for the kingdom (I too have been keeping up on Jaimie the VWM and the pros and cons of STM)

    When I was in college I spent 6 months living and studying in Tanzania. My plan was to spend much of my life in the missions field after college and I thought a study abroad experience would introduce me to culture shock and culture exploitation so I could be prepared. However, since then I have only been on one missions trip. I went to Swaziland and helped make bricks to build a school for AIDS orphans, provide free meals to orphans, present the Gospel, and the most impacting thing we did was distribute and teach people how to use water chlorinators through out the country. We were able to provide a safe, economic, easy way for people to have access to safe drinking water, which was huge. (I know the Gospel should have been the most impacting but we were doing so through translators and children’s stories so I doubt the effectiveness of it. but there was a strong Christian community already there that we were able to support in their endeavors.) But after spending half a year adapting to African culture I was a bit taken aback by the amount of desire to do “tourist” activities by others on the mission trip.

    I would LOVE to write a guest blog for you. Or my husband could (we co-author our blog 3-fold cord) or we could tag team one for you!

  13. Matt! Colorado was rocky, you say. Two words: Rocky Mountains. Guess how they got their name? All the crazy ROCKS! I know, brilliant, right?
    I frequently go to Denver; it’s only 2.5 hours from me. After living in the Twin Cities, MN; Madison, Wi and Chicago, IL; I ADORE! Denver more than the rest. I think it is the cleanest metroplex I’ve ever seen. Not sure where you saw all the homeless. Are you sure those weren’t college kids?
    You ROCK that STM. And snap away. You might recall my most recent trip to Honduras. I have lifetime friends after that trip. (Yay internet!)
    Be the hands and feet of Jesus, even if only for a week. Little know fact; Jesus didn’t stay in one place all that long. He was constantly on the move, passing out blessings like they were M&M’s; then moving on! Just toss out the blessings willy nilly, friend!

  14. I love Garden of the Gods. Besides the ocean, it is one of those places for me that show God’s workmanship. I live smack dab in the middle of Colorado Springs and Denver so I am also a fan of Colorado. :)

    There is a great ministry in Denver for the homeless youth http://www.soxplace.com/index-home.shtml. I was able to give a ton of baby gear to an ex-runaway who had made it out of the pit of homelessness. She couldn’t understand why I would just give her things I no longer needed with no strings attached. It just didn’t make sense to her that I might care about her or her baby. Our youth are hurting and broken, I am so thankful there are ministries that are targeting that demographic.

  15. Seems like lots of your readers live in Colorado–I’m glad we got to be first in line! We very, very much appreciated you taking time our of your vacation to come over. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting both of you!

    We’ve done plenty of overseas trips, but they weren’t your typical short-term missions. Pete has taught seminars, spoken at conferences, and come alongside other ministries on a number of continents. We spent a month at YWAM’s University of the Nations in Kona, helping in the computer department, while our daughters did a kids’ DTS. I think our whole family learned a ton, and benefited YWAM at the same time.

    I wrote about short-term missions last January: http://blogs.icta.net/mom/2011/01/going/

    I would love to swap blog posts, anytime. Are you sure you’d want to write for my small audience? 😎