Texas Memories

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

This is Goaters. 

I had a flashback this morning when this picture landed on my desktop, sent to me by a brother who was experiencing the common ailment of TMTS. In case you don't know what that is, it's a case of Terribly Missing Texas Syndrome. Know the feeling?

Anyway, after contracting TMTS myself at the very thought of that place, a whole flood of wonderful memories came into my head and made me supremely happy. Texas just kinda does that to a person.

So I was thinking about all the good times with the above pictured animal, who thought she was a dog or a cat or maybe a human, but who was in reality the best, sweetest, cutest, and most funny-tempered goat that ever lived. We spent three months in her company, while we were in heaven, I mean while we were living on a Ranch in Texas (possibly the same thing?), and every day was peppered with the amusing, entertaining, and occasionally frustrating situations that only a goat can get you into. Someday I want to raise a little herd of them!

And now that little sis and I are both experiencing a relapse of TMTS due to looking (again) at this picture, we're going to go cook up a Texas-sized dinner for some hungry boys, which means a giant batch of biscuits, a large pot of soup, a big pan of brownies, a lot of fresh milk, and a promised frappuccino tomorrow morning. 

I love these people.

Young Men with Purpose: Part 5

Monday, February 15, 2016

Sam is a visionary. He’s also a leader, a thinker, and a guy with rare strength of character. As the oldest of five close siblings, Sam excelled in many areas from a young age – our family first met him when he was just twelve years old, and even at that time, it was clear that he had an exceptionally interesting future ahead of him.

In the years since, he’s become dynamic, well-respected, and a highly skilled communicator (take a listen to his awesome answers on the Dave Glover Show here). God has blessed Sam with strong principles, a deep love for his family, and a great vision. He is an inspiration to many, and it’s exciting to see where God is leading him!

I recently had the privilege of interviewing Sam; here is what he wrote…

Can you describe a bit about yourself and your vision?
My name is Sam Saffa, I’m 20 years old and reside in St. Louis, Missouri. I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Liberty University and I enjoy experiencing life through the countless communication tools available in the 21st century.
My passion lies in seeing people succeed and achieve the hopes and dreams they have set for themselves. If you’re not helping other people, you may be doing things wrong.  
What books have you read that have fueled your vision?
Besides the Bible, there have been a few books that have really helped me be the best person I can be and powered my engine on the cold, dark days.
Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris
212: The Extra Degree by Sam Parker
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Politics can be intense – how do you find balance in your life?
Politics is intense. The governor’s race that I’m currently working with averages a day off every 15-16 days. A great way to find balance is to make time for what you really care about. If you’re working 18+ hours a day nonstop for something that you’re not necessarily passionate about, it can be draining. Make sure to create time for exercise, family time, or whatever else you feel helps you relax. Your boss will thank you, as will your body. Productivity is directly tied to the health of your brain; if your brain is tired, your decision will not be as sharp. What gets you out of bed? Find that activity, and stick with it.
How do you maintain integrity as a Christian in the rough-and-tumble of the political sphere?
Stay grounded in the word. You won’t navigate life’s dark waters without the “lamp unto your feet” to guide you. And at the end of the day, you have to realize that while there is darkness in the world, most people are genuinely good people. Find those people who make you better and ask questions. The only stupid question is the one never asked.  
What is your biggest piece of advice for young men interested in going into politics?
Politics is all-consuming. It’s a unique industry with unique challenges and opportunities. It is a world solely focused on money and power. My piece of advice would be: have a goal.
If you don’t have a goal, an end in sight, an accomplishment you’re shooting for, then there is no reason why you shouldn’t fall victim to the lust of power and wealth. I’m not saying wealth and power are bad, quite to the contrary. I’m simply proclaiming Proverbs 29:18 on a larger scale: “where there is no vision, the people perish.” If you don’t have something worth fighting for, any cause will get you there.

Young Men with Purpose: Part 4

Monday, February 8, 2016

If you could use one word to describe Darren D, that word would be Passionate. Whether he’s sharing his faith with a lost soul on the mission field, interacting with the Chinese people as he plants another church, or enjoying the fresh powder with his snowboard, his grasp of God’s purposes in his life and his vision of radical sacrifice for the Kingdom permeates every aspect of his being. 

Darren is goal-driven and positive. His story is an awesome picture of what can happen when God grips the life of a young man, and when that man is willing to follow the call on his life, even though it’s not always easy. I was thankful for the opportunity to interview Darren recently; here are his words of wisdom.

Q: How would you describe your vision?

I grew up in a Christian family. When I was about 9 or so, I lost interest in God and kind of just stopped paying attention to church. In high school I used and sold a lot of drugs and was in a lot of legal trouble. The end of my senior year I got whacked by the Holy Spirit and did a 180 in life. Shortly after graduating college I ended up going to a really conservative Bible college, and it was educational. Sometime during my junior year, I was meditating on Romans and came across Romans 15:20, where Paul says “It’s my ambition to preach the gospel where it has not yet been named, just as the Scriptures say, ‘Those who have not seen will hear and those who have not heard will understand.’” 

Other truths in Romans stood out as well, like Romans 10:13-15 – “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”

But the massive truths that hit me were: (1) people have to hear the gospel in order to believe it, and (2) Paul refrained from visiting and ministering in an awesome, vibrant church in Rome because he knew there were still places where people hadn’t even heard the gospel. He felt he couldn’t, in good conscience, stay in one place or church if there were people left who were cut off from the news of salvation. 

At the same time I was also taking a Missiology course and learning about stuff like the 10:40 window. I was blown away that there were still places in the world that were unreached or under-reached. So after graduating, I took an opportunity to come to China as an English teacher in a university and started to minister to my students. I found out that many of them truly had never heard the Gospel, never read the Bible, and never met a Christian. I also saw that soon after many of them heard the Gospel and read the Bible, they wanted to believe and God began transforming many of their lives. 

I was again blown away. I had never seen the Gospel message work so powerfully before. 

After 3 years of teaching English, I decided I wanted to do this for the rest of my life, so I made some plans to make my future here a little more stable for the long term. This is now my 6th year working in China. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s hard; now after being here a little longer, the adventure has faded a bit and I am starting to realize there are some real sacrifices involved with this lifestyle, but overall it’s still way awesome. 

Q: Do you encounter many other young men with similar visions?

I would say that I do not encounter a lot of men with this vision.

I think there is a lack of teaching about the above scriptures and their implication. I think most people believe that if you’re ignorant, God just kind of grants you a pass or maybe just judges you based on whether you’re a good person or not. So that kind of takes a lot of urgency out of the need to go and tell.
I also think Americans have a warped view of calling that puts our personal interests, comforts and hobbies before the things clearly commanded in Scripture.

I think people see world evangelization as something only “radical” Christians are called to rather than something the Church is commanded to do. 

Q: What is the greatest need, spiritually, of our generation?

The greatest need of our generation is to obey and serve God.
We will find whatever healing, joy, peace, and fulfillment we are looking for if we serve and obey Jesus. We need to stop licking our wounds and start plundering the gates of hell. 

Q: What is your top piece of advice for young people interested in missions?

Talk to some long term missionaries. Also call a reputable mission agency and try to talk to a missions counselor or coach. A lot of mission agencies have counselors who can help you actually start pursuing it rather than just dreaming about it.
When I went back to the states, I found that a lot of people were interested in pursuing it but just didn’t know where to start; with a little guidance and encouragement a few people actually started to pursue it. Actually, a girl from my church just showed up in China this week!  Also just meditate on missional verses like Matt 28:18, Acts 1:8, Romans 15:20, Romans 10: 9-17, Hab 2:14…. 

Saturate your brain with that goodness, and God’s word will wreck your life in the best way. :) 

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